I've been doing a lot of thinking, and thinking, and thinking. About business, and art, and where I want to be, and what I want to do.
That's a rough set of thoughts for anyone, and it's been a little tough to point the eye inward.
I started making beaded jewelry in 1996. I still enjoy it, but not in the same way that I once did. The market is so much different today that it's difficult for someone like me--laidback in presentation and personality--to catch the eye of potential buyers, especially when so many sellers are out there, putting together fantastic displays and engaging every prospective buyer with charm.
Once the competition to get into art fairs began to mount, it seemed like a natural fit for me to sell beads instead. I'm much more enthusiastic about the work of others, and I love beads, and it's been a great part-time occupation for a long time. I've worked as a sales rep for a company or two, and nowadays I sell my own inventory of closeout beads.
I really thought that closeout beads would be perfect in this market. People are scaling back their bead purchases and trying to make the most of their money, and I figured that selling discounted beads would be a cinch. I thought that it was perfect; I wouldn't have to have a really knockout display, because I wanted to have an image of low prices and bargains. It did seem to draw people at first, especially the bags of beads priced for a dollar each, but it seems to have slowed a little. I don't know if it's the economy, or competition.
Through all of this time, though, I've wished that I had a product or a line that would be more wholly mine. Something that I could use to indulge in my favorite things, images, words, anything. I don't consider myself an artist, but I do feel like there are images and ideas I can bring to something that would be interesting and unusual.
About a year ago, as I was going through the Bead & Button class catalog, I noticed classes being taught in metals. I don't remember if they were etching classes or just hammering/texturing/stamping classes; I do remember feeling extremely intrigued. Excited. My brain sparked, and for a moment I thought of all the interesting designs I could put on a pendant. I was on a cloud for an hour.
Of course, I am my own harshest critic, as many of us are, and by the end of the hour I had reminded myself about the reality of a project like this. Dealing with chemicals, working with metals (which can be a time-consuming process), having to contend with graphics programs like Photoshop to create and clean up images; well, I am not a girl with a lot of patience, and these things are daunting.
But the desire grew and grew. Designs kept popping in my head. Even thoughts of marketing, which is usually an alien subject for me.
I've finally given up trying to resist. The process isn't a terribly expensive one, it seems, though I'm still trying to work through electroetching (salt vs. copper sulfate?) vs. acid etching, and I haven't quite located every last cog. But the desire is still there, almost bubbling over. I just hope I can sustain it, even when nothing turns out as I expected, or my patience short-circuits.
Today I reached into my mailbox and found one of the last things I need; copper blanks that I had ordered from Rings & Things. I feel like a page has turned. Will I be able to turn this into something more? Could this be a new line and a new vocation? Or will I be closing out the results of this experiment in my dollar bags?
Only time will tell.