Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Faux Goody Weekend

I spent the weekend cleaning out my inspiration box of magazine clippings and texture samples and bad sketches I've made trying to come up with some interesting new topics for tutorials.   I've been experimenting all weekend, too.  Lots of happy accidents to report, and a few which went straight to the bottom of an empty new Butt Uglies jar.

Several months ago, I won a copy of Heather Powers' new book, Jewelry Designs From Nature, and I was looking through it again today and noticed a sticky note I had placed on page 82.

Page 82 shows a Sea Urchin Necklace Heather created with Sea Urchin Spines and one of her own 30mm sea urchin polymer beads.   The note said "find some of these" and pointed to the beautiful olive green spines.   I had never seen the spines in olive, and Heather's are also a lot bigger than the ones I have.  Mine are sort of mauve-ishy-caramel, and really small.  I tried to find some of the olive color, but couldn't, so today, I decided to try and make my own from polymer.  

Ta da!   I think they turned out pretty darn good.  I would show you a photo of Heather's necklace, but that would probably violate copyright laws, so I better not.   If any of you have her new book, though, check out the real thing on page 82 and let me know how you think mine compare.  

I also experimented with some of my "controlled marbling" technique to see what else I could write a tutorial on other than a ho-hum pair of earrings, so I added a herringbone or chevron texture sheet and went to town.   I like these, too.   There are so many colors that come through with marbled pieces.  I am always amazed to see what emerges after sanding and buffing.  

I am still going through the inspiration box, so more new stuff to come.  

And John, I haven't forgotten about your faux amber, either.  I'm just trying to come up with a recipe that looks like the real thing but isn't the same old thing everyone else has already done. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

When Life Hands You Lemons... Make Jewelry

I am not doing very well at keeping that promise to blog every day, am I?  Again, almost another month has gone by since my last post.   Blame it on Facebook.   I'm trying desperately to keep up with all the things that go on there, things I want to comment on and things I want to participate in, and I feel like I'm spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.

Does it ever seem like to you that as soon as you learn how to do something, anything, a new and improved version comes along you have to learn all over again?   One step forward, two steps back... that's how I feel.

This selling on the internet thing is not for sissies.   The pace is relentless.  If you want to be successful, you have to keep up, when all you want to do is create.   That's the easy part, isn't it?  It's the photographing and listing and promoting, the constant promoting to make yourself stand out among the bazillion other talented artists out there trying to do the same thing, that is so exhausting.

Just when you think you have a handle on it, life throws you another whammy.   In my case, my job of 20 years as a real estate and probate paralegal, a field in which I have worked for 32 years, will come to an end at the end of October, 2012.  For a person who has worked constantly since I was a teenager (when other kids were taking vacations and playing, I was working my butt off to help my mother support our family), sometimes holding as many as three jobs in one Summer, it's very disconcerting.  I have never come to the end of a job before.  I've always been the one to leave to go on to something else.

Over the years, I've been a babysitter, a convenience store clerk, a clothing store clerk, a library helper, a video store cashier, a grocery store cashier, a bank teller, the advertising manager for a local paper, a florist, a restaurateur (for about six months) and owned by own gift shop (for about six months.)  I also did craft shows several times a year.  Since 1980, I've been a real estate and probate paralegal with two firms, a genealogist for hire, a jewelry designer and now a polymer artist.  Hmm, come to think of it, I have never held only one job at a time.

Two years ago my hours were cut back.  I should have seen the writing on the wall then and gotten out and looked for something else, but I didn't.  I kept hoping things would get better, because I had invested so much of myself in it and I really didn't believe what is happening now would happen.  Now, in less than two months, it will be over.   I am 53 years old, not in good physical health, and even though I have a keen analytical mind and a reputation as being one of the best in this state at what I do, I am finding that it means virtually nothing in this economy.  All the networking I did, a lot of which helped other people find jobs over the years, apparently means nothing either.   People are encouraging me to relocate to a big city, but personal and family obligations make that impossible.

So, even though my dream of being a full-time artist was only a pipe dream 5 years ago, now it is a reality.   I am REALLY on my own.   Come November 1st, 2012, I will be totally dependent on my own  ingenuity, creativity and talent.  It is both exciting and terrifying.   Up to this point, I never had to pay attention to how much I spent on clay or the cost of supplies or tools I wanted.  I am contemplating yearly budgets instead of weekly budgets now.  I am trying to figure out how far one bottle of shampoo will go, and I have a feeling I am going to become very familiar with each and every flavor of Hamburger Helper,  It's a good thing I love Ramen noodles, eh Laurel?  

I am trying to focus on this new phase as being an opportunity to live out a dream, but part of me can't help wonder if my creativity will suffer as a result of having to sell consistently to eat, or if the extra time I now have will make me more creative and improve my work.   It is a good thing I know how to type and sew, too.  My mother always said, if you can type and sew, you won't starve.  We'll certainly see.

So here's to the first day of my new independence as an artist.  Wait, let me cut that glass of champagne with some water first, okay?  Got to make it last...