Monday, May 27, 2013

North Star Pendant Tutorial

I realize it might be a bit ironic that I should follow up an announcement of impending lack of beading content by posting beading content, but such is life.

 I have had a few requests for patterns of designs seen on my blog lately, and I have a confession to make: most of the time, I don’t plan my pieces and I don’t take notes while beading. I just sort of doodle in beads, if that makes sense. I come up with things on the fly and sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. 

Occasionally, something I create has such a brilliantly simple thread path that I can make a pattern out of it. That’s when you see me make more than one of a design as I try to slim the thread path down to its bare essentials. Those pieces I have (or rather, can have) patterns for. My other pieces? Not so much. Often, the thread paths are so complicated even I can’t remember how I did it after the fact.

Which brings us to this piece:

I didn’t take notes back when I made the North Star Pendant, but on examining it, the basic pattern seems simple enough so why not give backwards engineering it a go? If I can manage it with this piece, maybe I can manage it with others as well. Though, instead of doing a time-consuming single image pattern for this one, I’m going to do this picture based in the body of the blog so I can add lots of text where I need to without space concerns. That will help with clarity, I think. Tutorial after the cut :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

About My Hiatus and Expanding Directions for this Blog

The problem is that I went into this venture thinking I was going to have a beading business.

 I accepted from the beginning that there would be “start up costs” so I wasn’t really buying all those beads and neck-forms for myself—I was buying my supplies for the business and my displays for the business. That took some of the sting out of the sticker shock. Because beads are expensive, and displays are expensive, and custom business cards are expensive—and because I would never have bought those things for myself. The fact that I was buy them for the business made it seem okay to spend money I didn’t really have on things I wanted anyway. A bit of debt is okay, I coached myself, for the sake of having the business.

But I don’t really have a business. 

Sure I have a dot-com domain and an online store. Sure I have professional packaging and enough displays to fill a ten by ten craft faire booth. Sure I do nice, professional work and I have a good portfolio of unique high quality pieces that I designed myself. But those things don’t make a business. Selling merchandise and receiving money for it—that makes a business. And that is something I have yet to do in any sustainable way.

I sit at the local craft shows and I make a few sales but nothing near what I’d need to make to justify the risk of taking time and money traveling to more distant shows. I live in the middle of nowhere and traveling anywhere outside of town is a big commitment in gas money; a commitment I can’t stomach when I know that, even on a good day, I barely make enough to cover my booth fees.

As an artist, I have been phenomenally successful over these last couple years. I have gone from duplicating the work of others to creating my own designs. My craftsmanship has improved to the point of my getting regular comments about the durability and quality of my work. You wouldn’t believe the number of compliments I get at shows and the number of people that stop to fondle the necklaces wistfully.

They just don’t buy them.

And that doesn't just happen to me, that happens all the time because the reality of art is that it doesn’t always pay to do it—at least, not in the monetary sense of the word—and while I enjoy beading greatly and while I grow every time I make a new project and while having all the materials I wanted without thought to the cost has expanded my creative horizon in ways I had only dreamed of back when I was doing twenty dollar projects out of Beadwork magazine… I wasn’t thinking in terms of artistic growth when I spent all those hundreds of dollars getting the studio stocked and the booth set up. I was thinking in terms of business. And if one looks at my venture through the eyes of business, the whole thing—despite the artistic success— was an utter failure.

A very expensive failure.

The disappointment is not something I prepared for. And there is an additional layer of shame that comes from tallying up all the things I bought on credit and realizing that with interest on those purchases, I am unlikely to make back that loss even if I sell out my entire current inventory. It’s also so horribly embarrassing when friends ask me if I intend to go to the fall craft show and I get immediately wishy-washy about it because I know how much work it is and how little payoff there will be. I don’t need to spend the booth money to sit there for twelve hours and hear compliments, however genuine, from folks. My coffers need filling, not my ego. But I also feel like I’ve made some sort of commitment, a promise of kinds, by taking on the business name and having the business cards and paying for the domain of this blog. But if it was a promise that kept me anxious about not posting and anxious about not going to local shows, it’s a promise well broken by now.

It’s taken me some time to come around and back out the other side of that. It’s taken me some time to stop seeing myself as a business person and start seeing myself as an artist again. These days I don’t buy art supplies based on what I want to get out of them in terms of salable products. But because of that, I also don’t take on debt under the delusion of some future reimbursement—I buy things when I have the money to buy them. That comes with its downside too—like the fact that I may get a great idea for using some new shaped bead and not act on it because I don’t immediately have the funds to make the supply purchase.

Remembering that I am an artist first and foremost also reminded me that I do other kinds of art. I paint and draw and play with polymer. I write and fold origami and mess with wirework just because I want to. This summer, thanks to my brother buying me a camera, I will be spending all my time trying my hand at photography. Because I’m a creative at heart.

I have been searching for a way to make this blog about more than just the business, and for that matter, about more than just my beading. That’s kind-of hard with the name of it being “Chrysina Beads” but I know if I don’t start posting about my other creative endeavors, eventually, I’ll just stop posting altogether. I love beads and I love beading, but I’ve been going through something of a beading dry-spell. I don’t sit down to make projects very often anymore and what I have made recently, I haven’t been satisfied with.

I know it’s probably not what people want to hear from me after such a long hiatus, and I hope I don’t alienate those of you who came here, and continue to come here, for beading related content. But I figure some content, even if it’s not beading specific, is better than no content. That isn’t to say there will be no beading content, just not as much of it.

I hope at least some of you will stay with me as I expand into new things. I have appreciated your continuing support and love getting your comments on my work! :) 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Everwater Pendant

I spent a lot of time on this pendant working on an underlying structure to keep the points from flipping backward. With all the hematite and crystal in this, not to mention the freshwater pearls, it has a lot of weight to it, which is different for me because my work is usually very light. I sort of like the weight though. It gives the necklace a real presence when you wear it :) 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Thorn Lotus Pendant

Thorn Lotus Pendant

I'm still playing around with spiky textures and my latest creation uses daggers instead of spiky beads to create the effect. I had to work in an underlying structure to push the daggers forward and keep them from flipping back behind the pendant. Overall, I'm happy with how it came out, and I love the colors. The photo really doesn't do justice to the subtle mix of greens and tans. :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Ace of Clubs

One of my hobbies is collecting playing cards and for a long time I have wanted to create a set of pendant designs to match the four standard playing card suits. Here is the first installment in my "Aces" series:

This was the original prototype design and ended up as a fully beaded necklace. However, I wanted to be able to use it as a free standing pendant as well so I refined the technique and made a second one without a beaded rope:

Overall, I am happy with the design. I think it represents the suit of clubs quite well. (^-^)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lyndsey's Turtle Pendant (Holiday Commission)

I think it is long enough after the holiday to post these. :) One of my clients commissioned this turtle pendant for his wife as a Christmas gift, so I didn't want to post it too early in case it showed up in a web search before she actually received it. It is designed by me and officially called Lyndsey's Turtle.

He is made with an 18mm rivoli, a 10mm?(not sure, I forgot to measure it) round bead of polished fossil jasper, tilas, 3mm firepolished beads, 7mm vertical drilled drop beads, a baby spike bead (for the tail), four 6mm crystal pearls (support on the back) and assorted seed beads.

I think the back shot shows off the construction fairly well:

I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday season! (^-^)