My creative energy seems to go into hibernation during the winter months. This used to frustrate me, but now I accept that I’m simply not prolific all the time. I’ve come to appreciate this time to rest, restore, and plan.
It may not look like I’m doing doing much … but below the surface, I’m dreaming, planning, and planting creative seeds for the year ahead.
My semi annual trip to the gem show always helps to kick start that creative vision. It’s a much needed dose of sunshine, family, friends, and rocks! It’s also an opportunity to hand select high quality materials for my work. Playing with these sparkling stones definitely helps to awaken the muse!
I quietly re-opened my Etsy shop in June, but forgot to make a whole lot of fanfare about it. Lots of folks found their way to my website during my Etsy break, which is where I prefer to do business anyway. This gives me hope that you’ll all continue to support my craft wherever I share it. So thanks to all who showed up, it encouraged me to get up and try again!
While I’d hoped to return with a slew of new work, life had other plans. I spent time with family and friends, played in my garden, and then went another round with that old back injury. That last part wasn’t so fun, but it’s in my rearview now, so that much is good.
All that to say that I don’t have a ton of new work, but I have managed to complete a few sweet little pieces. Photos have been taken and edited, and I’ll be adding new goodies to the site soon.
Friends, I’m going to take a giant step back in hopes that it will get me moving in a better direction.
To start, I’ll be putting my Etsy shop on pause as of March 31st, 2019.
So if you like to shop with me on Etsy, please do so this week before I put the shop in vacation mode! My website will remain open during this Etsy break, but I won’t be adding new work for a bit, and older designs will be retired as they sell out.
As awful as that sounds, it’s been a big wake up call. This has forced me to really think about how this current version of my business aligns with my goals.
Somewhere along my Etsy journey (and through the recession years) my focus gradually shifted from creating work that I love and feel challenged by, to worrying too much about making “stuff that will sell”. And apparently, that stuff is attracting the wrong element. So I’m taking a breather in order to refocus and realign.
It’s scary to just walk away from my primary source of income for a couple of months, but I really need to love what I do again. Otherwise, what’s the point?
To get to that, I’m taking a leap of faith and giving myself permission to make the things that my heart really wants to bring forth into the world. Hopefully the world wants those pieces too, and the *right* people will connect to them. Or maybe I’ll just fall. Either way, this has to change.
Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me along the way! And many thanks to my beautiful daughter (pictured) for her insight and encouragement in making this choice.
Thought I’d share these “vintage” photos from vending days gone by: The first photo is from the Chumash Pow Wow in Ojai, CA, circa 1994. We’d just finished breaking down our vendor booth. By that stage in my life, I’d already been vending at art shows and festivals for about 7 years!
The woman on the left was a sweet friend from England, who used to import my work so that she could sell it in her stall at the Glastonbury Festival! (Does that event still exist?). The babe in my arms is now 26 years old, and in grad school.
The second photo shows some beaded leather bags that I made around that same era. As you can see, my style has changed a bit in the 25 yrs since these pictures were taken. Some things remain constant: my material choices (beads, leather, natural gemstones), a love of color and natural themes, skilled craftsmanship, and passion for my work and the people who inspire me to create.
This path has not always been easy, but I love it all the same. I’m grateful for all the lessons behind me, and hopeful for many years ahead. Some of you have been with me through this whole journey (thank you, I love you!) and some are just joining now (thanks, you rock!).
Please know that I genuinely appreciate every bit of support and encouragement along the way. May it come back to you tenfold ❤
Had a rough day today, contemplating an unsavory situation. As luck would have it, I came across these words that I wrote last year. It was a timely reminder of where to focus my energy. While the lame situation still needs resolution, I’d like to pause from my pissed-offedness for just a moment, to acknowledge the good:
I’ve spent a lot of time and energy griping about those unethical competitors who copy, undercut, and just generally slither around the internet. It’s true – they are many. But perhaps I haven’t spent enough time acknowledging the friendly and ethical competitors who have treated me kindly. There are many of you as well. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to know countless artists who’ve helped me to hone my craft and to learn the ropes as a vendor.
Despite the fact that we’re “competing” in a similar market, you’ve treated me with integrity and respect, helping me to learn and encouraging me to grow. We’ve empathized with each others’ struggles, and celebrated successes.
These positive professional relationships have endured time and trends, and many have grown into genuine friendships that enrich my life. Thank you for this! It proves that “competitor” doesn’t have to be a dirty word. We all choose how we conduct our businesses (and ourselves) and we CAN lift each other up without detracting from our own goals. In this way, we all thrive.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ So yeah, the jackasses are out there – but so are the good ones!
I’m grateful for those of you who choose to take the high road (even when it’s not the easy road) and I promise to treat you – and your work – with the same integrity and courtesy that you’ve shown me.
I’m going to try something new, and hold a customer appreciation giveaway each month until the end of the year. If it goes well, I’ll continue the tradition in 2019. Since this new adventure begins on All Soul’s Day, I’m offering this handcrafted day of the dead mask as the very first handmade giveaway gift.
To enter, just send a photo of yourself wearing my work & allow me to share it on my sites + social media. There are several ways that you can share your photo – the very best way is to scroll down to use the handy form that I created just for this purpose, but you can also just share the images to Facebook or Instagram and tag me along with a comment that you’d like it to serve as a giveaway entry.
For each photo that you share, you’ll receive one entry good for the remainder of the year. For a second entry, share a story about who you are, what you do, and/or why my work resonates with you. And yes, you may submit photos that you’ve sent in the past, IF you include a damned good story!
Each month, I’ll draw one winning name. November’s winner will be chosen on Friday 11/30 at 6 pm PST
I’m doing this because your photos really do mean the world to me! I absolutely LOVE seeing my work out there in the wild, being enjoyed by cool people. More importantly, I love hearing your stories and learning about the amazing things that you do in the world! When you share who you are and why you enjoy my work, it motivates me to keep creating and to continue to improve.
Those photos and connections mean more than I can say. So I’d like to foster that, and to let you know how much I appreciate you. Thanks so much for supporting my craft, and for always inspiring me!
Woke up to these gorgeous customer photos this morning! 2fit_samba added more jewels and beads to this leather crown to create her Lemanja goddess of the sea costume for the Notting Hill carnival in London Uk. As always, I’m so grateful for your photos – they’re a beautiful reminder of why I love my job!
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!
Happy Solstice, and many thanks to all who’ve supported my craft!
If you’ve purchased something from me, liked or shared my work, or offered feedback or encouragement along the way, YOU have helped to support my creative process and I’m deeply grateful. It occurred to me the other day that some of you have been cheering me on and collecting my work for anywhere from 5 to 30 years! I am honored and humbled by this – may your kindness come back to you tenfold.
Winter is officially here, and this quiet time seems ideal for rest and restoration. I’ve been feeling rather burnt out for some time now, and it feels like a good time to slow down and reflect on what I’d like to do differently in the year ahead. With that said, my Christmas gift to myself will be to put my Etsy shop in vacation mode as of December 31st.
I’ve not yet decided how long that vacation will last, I’m simply going to hibernate until I feel ready to share new work again. It could be a few weeks, it could be longer. We’ll see how that goes. My personal website will remain open, but I do intend to retire quite a few items at the start of 2017. So if you’ve had your eye on one of my pieces or if you only wish to purchase via Etsy, now’s a good time to do so.
Thanks again for your support and encouragement. May you be surrounded with love and comfort this holiday season.