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What’s in a Name?

Leather Butterflies - Adelpha californica

Butterfly imagery keeps cropping up in my work lately. Perhaps it’s because I’m an avid gardener and spring is finally here, or maybe there’s a deeper significance: butterflies symbolize transformation, change and growth. These are huge themes for my creative work this year! For some time now, I’ve felt the need for a change; at first it was a subtle whisper, but the feeling has grown progressively stronger. So much so, that I know that I absolutely must listen to my heart, even if the next steps seem scary.

Before I tell you where I’m going, I should probably tell you where I’ve been:

In 1996 I got my first computer and “discovered” the internet. Within a year, I’d created a Hometown AOL website for my business using a WYSIWG editor. Digital cameras were still fairly new (even the really good cameras were only like 4 megapixel!) so my photos were awful. In short, it was a primitive website with lousy photos, and the name was too long for anyone to find or remember. In my defense, most websites were like that back then.

My next site went up in 1998, with a shorter-but-easily-forgettable name. In those days, my handcrafted goods and my inventory of beading supplies were listed together on one site. When I’d meet online friends at bead shows or cons, they’d always say “Oh, you’re that Bead/Mask lady!”. So in 2003, I launched my new website and called it Beadmask. The name served as an umbrella for both product lines (craft supplies + handcrafted goods), and it was memorable and easy to spell.

Over time it became clear that those two different product lines had two very different audiences, who really needed two different sites. So in 2008 I launched a second website,  Treefrog Beads, which is dedicated exclusively to bead and jewelry making supplies. This left the Beadmask website for my handmade goods, and the name still sort of fit, since it featured beaded jewelry and leather masks. This set up has worked well for the last many years, but change is in the air again.

My business has evolved and outgrown the name “Beadmask”.  It just doesn’t fit anymore – the bead supplies have their own site, and masks aren’t such a primary focus anymore. I certainly intend to continue working in beads and leather, and mythology and nature are sure to remain central themes for my creations,  but it’s time to branch out. In order to clear the way for new growth, I’ll also have to let a few things go. Many older designs will be retired this year, in order to clear space in the studio (and in my mind) for new work. I’m excited to explore new media, new product designs, and to really dig in to more elaborate work that challenges me and showcases my skill. I want to focus on creating truly unique pieces that you will love to wear!

Long story short: My business name will be changing soon! Please don’t be surprised when you see a new name in your social media feeds. It’ll still be me, just with a fresh new name, new ideas, and new designs for you to enjoy.

As much as I’d love to tell you that this will be a seamless transition, growth and change are not always graceful. I’ll forewarn you that there may be a few bumps along the way, as I stretch to find my wings. I hope you’ll stick with me – and perhaps even offer your feedback as to what kinds of new designs and products you’d like to see. Some of you have been with me for a very long time, and I really hope you’ll come along for this next phase of creative growth!

 

 

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And a Solstice Sale…

winter oak ornamentsWell I fully intended to be a curmudgeon this holiday season, but I guess it’s just not in my nature. I spent a good bit of time in my studio this weekend, thinking about which ideas I’d like to build on in 2016, and what I’m ready to let go of. In the interest of clearing out space – in my studio and in my mind –  I’ve marked down many items throughout my store. Check out my SALE section for a wide selection of items marked down by 25% or more, through the end of 2015.

These discounts can be combined with my existing winter specials, enabling you to get 35% (or more) off my usual prices! Info and coupon codes for those offers are copied below:

* All US domestic orders of $40+ are eligible for free first class shipping.
On my website, you’ll automatically see the free shipping option when your cart reaches $40
On Etsy, you’ll need to enter the coupon code “shippingfree” at checkout

* All orders of $75+ are eligible for a 10% discount. 
To receive this discount, use the coupon code “happyholidays” at checkout. That coupon code is the same for my website as it is for Etsy. Please note that this offer applies to ready made items only, not custom work.

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Shifting Focus

Snow Queen headdress – 2012

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my beads have really been calling to me. I’d love to listen, but I never seem to have the time or resources to really explore this. That’s why I’m stepping back from commissions right now; I really want to clear out some time to follow my muse.

While I do enjoy the type of work that I’ve been doing, it feels like I have fallen into a cycle of creating easier, smaller, “safer” stuff — either because that’s all that I’ve got time for, or because I know that it will sell. That last bit may sound shallow, but let’s get real — I’m blessed to be able to do what I love for a living, but it IS still work. This is how the bills get paid, so I often feel pressured to create the smaller “bread and butter” items that satisfy my creditors, rather than the  time intensive pieces that satisfy my soul.

Amber necklace – 2001

For a frame of reference, the headdress above is probably one of the most elaborate pieces that I’ve completed in the past several months. It’s lovely, and I’m quite proud of it; however, it’s still not a huge time investment compared to my beaded pieces. It probably took twice as much time for me to create the necklace at the left — which is still not that elaborate in the realm of beadwork! In both cases, the significant creation time requires a greater price tag than most of my work. While they’ll certainly sell eventually (in fact, the necklace already has) I typically do not sell pieces like these every day. Thus you can see how I’ve fallen into this cycle of creating more “bread and butter” work, and less of the deeper work that really fuels me creatively.

I’d really like to change that in the year ahead, but I’m not entirely sure how to do that. The cold hard truth is that no matter how loudly my muse calls, my responsibilities remain. So how do I create this shift in focus? Do I take out loans (not really an option), pray for a generous benefactor, or simply take a huge leap of faith?

For several years now, I’ve been sketching very elaborate designs which would incorporate several of the skills that I’ve developed over the last 20 odd years, and also challenge me to develop new ones. While I used to fantasize about having the time to work on these ideas, now I am feeling like I need to. Part of this drive is simply my creative force aching to stretch and grow, and part of it is the need to go deeper and develop greater patience and focus (qualities I am seeing the need for in other areas of my life). I can see and feel this goal very clearly, but I can’t yet see how to actualize it. Any suggestions?

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2008 BJP musings…

I’ve been assembling my 2007 BJP pages, and thinking more on what I’d like to try with my 2008 journal. My primary goal with last year’s journal was simply to get back into beading regularly. Beyond that, my “rules” were pretty flexible … try to work outside of my comfort zone in terms of color & technique, explore negative space (I always want to fill the page!) and give myself room to play. I opted not to look at other artists work along the way, so that I could reintegrate beadwork into my life without too much outside influence.
This year I think I’d like a bit more continuity from page to page, so I’ve chosen a reoccuring image/theme. No funky shapes this time (last year’s pages were round) but I’ll work a bit larger at 5″ x 7″. The “empty spaces” idea was challenging for me last year, so I think I’ll keep working on that one.
These are my ideas right now, but they’re flexible. I’m not going to start my new journal till I’ve made more headway in finishing the first one … but I think once I start the first page, it will set the groundwork/tone for the year to come.
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Peeking out from my cave…

At one time, I was very active in the internet beading community. The various bead forums introduced me to many talented artists and ideas. I formed treasured friendships, and took part in some really special projects. Being so “plugged in” kept me up on all the latest stuff, and for many years it was very inspiring.
Somewhere along the way, I hit a state of — oversaturation. As much as I enjoyed the many groups I’d become a part of, I found myself spending more time talking about art than creating it. I needed to step back and reconnect with my own creative voice. 
Today, I tend to be somewhat of a hermit. This isn’t entirely bad — solitude can be conducive to creative work — but I think it’s time to balance that out a bit. It’s easy to get lost in all that quiet thought, and I really miss connecting with other creative folk. Hence, this blog. My hope is that it will provide a positive means to:
* chronicle my creative pursuits and mishaps.
* reach out & learn what other artists are up to
To start, my goal is to update this thing (at least)bi-weekly bi-monthly. I hope to share my own work, as well as some of the people and things that inspire me.

Wish me luck! 🙂