In the book, Humans of New York, an older British denizen of the Big Apple, with bright red glasses framed by a head of white hair, reports:
“I used to be obsessed with cooking. It was all I thought about. I did cooking shows on the BBC. I wrote 27 cookbooks. I wrote a whole cookbook just about garlic. Then one night, I was editing the proofs for my 27th cookbook, when I picked up a marker and drew a mermaid on a piece of scrap paper. I looked at that mermaid, she looked at me, and I never thought about cooking again. Ever since that moment, I’ve thought about nothing but art. I was sixty years old when I made the switch. I’m not sure what caused it. It was either menopause, a psychotic break, or a muse bit me on the bum!”
Clearly, this explains it all–why some of us come to our true field of endeavor later in life than others. For me, after a lifetime as a “health and communications policy wonk who writes” — well at age 58, to be precise — I walked away to pursue a new direction as a beadweaver of beautiful art jewelry. I had that “psychotic break” or had the “muse bite me on the bum” as described. AND, similarly, I haven’t looked back for one moment.
It’s been a roller coaster ride, for sure. But it is meaningful in a way far different from speechwriting and hearing one’s words spoken on C-span or in a keynote address; having a press release (about someone else) picked up by a major news outlet; or seeing one’s words in print ( over the name of someone else, of course).
After creating intellectual property for years, I now have tangible, touchable results of a different brand of creativity. Instead of weaving words to form coherent sentences, paragraphs, articles, I weave (well, sew with needle and thread) tiny beads to form a coherent whole. And, for once, I am not constrained by the rules of grammar and syntax. My beadwork, in contrast, often runs riot, in a freeform madness. Sure, it most often lives within the rules of color and is bounded by the stitches I use, but otherwise, constraints, restraints, and the need to live within the mind and structure of others is OFF!! And it is so very liberating!
So, hooray for that muse who bit me on the bum….or WAS it a psychotic break?? HMMMM…… And today — as every day — I celebrate those willing to take that leap of faith, to follow their muse at whatever age and in whatever endeavor. Hooray for the creative, the daring, the artful!
As a bead weaver, I’ve heard a litany of critiques about the price of my jewelry. The classic runs something like the following: ”Your work is beautiful, but why is it so expensive? After all, you’re just using glass beads and thread. It’s not like you’re working in silver or gold….What’s the deal???”
As a result, I often second-guess myself about pricing….But NO LONGER! One of my Art Girls colleagues shared one of the best commentaries about pricing of our art. It was written and widely circulated by the gemstone cutter extraordinaire, John Dyer.. He explains that many of us actually aren’t charing ENOUGH for our work because we’re only charging a per hour rate while working on a piece. We THINK it would be a reasonable rate on any job….
Here it is:
If you want to make a real living at jewelry (or any other independent endeavor) you need to consider that there is a lot of other stuff that goes into your craft as well.
If you don’t do this in the long run you won’t be able to survive. In reality you should probably charge anywhere from 4-5 times a “fair wage” because at most 1/3rd of your time is going to be billable. It will probably be far less than that.
If you did have a “normal” job your employer would have to pay you for every hour spent at work no matter what you were doing. (Even going to the bathroom!) Since your employers are now your customers what you charge them needs to reflect all that you do, not just the small part that is working on their piece of jewelry. No one else is going to pay you for doing the other things…
A number of years ago I heard that an independent contractor (in any trade) needed to charge a minimum of $35/hour to survive (because of all of the costs and non billable hours that they spend on work related things). This was so long ago that no doubt inflation has this at around $50-$45/hour now.
Sure your overhead might be low, but you have to make a living or you aren’t doing anyone any good in the long run because you won’t be able to keep doing what you love and providing people with the jewelry they want.
A clue that you either don’t manage money well or that you don’t charge enough is if you never have money to buy any inventory for stock or the new tools you need.
Charge a fair price and accept that numerous people will always think things should be cheaper. They just don’t have a clue all the work, sweat and tears that go into it.
These words have helped me rethink my pricing They are helping me stop excusing my price structure when challenged by potential customers. And they are clarifying why so many of us struggle….We need to keep this kind of business model in mind daily as we ply our art, our craft, our passion.
Please do share this widely. It’s part of the public education about the value and worth and price of creative endeavors such as mine.
The season is nearly upon us when shows come fast and furious. So far, I've got a bit of news for everyone. First, I have an exhibit in Maine! My work will be featured at an exhibit titled "Beading: Threading The Needle between Modern and Ancient". It marks the first time my goodies will be seen/sold in that State. The exhibit will be held July 5-17, 2013 at Shaw Galleries, 126 Main Street, Northeast Harbor, ME.
It's a wonderful old arts town. I'll be featuring my "Under the Sea" collection, including my newest Ammonite in Beads piece (see picture)
AND I'll be waiting to see you at the following shows this spring/summer:
I am TIRED! The ACC Craft show was a wonderful success for me. It even included some wholesale orders and some wonderful contacts with most wonderful people. If I'm able, I'll try to add a
I've been knitting up a storm -- a zebra, an elephant and a monkey. For my next act, they get sewn together, stuffed and given faces and other details. Next up, knitted velociraptor! Pictures of all will be forthcoming.
In between, I'm finishing up a number of beadweaving orders -- a necklace, a bracelet, and a pair of earrings. Then I can happily design again! Hopefully the muse who has taken a hiatus will have returned by then!! Huzzah.
Driving up to Brooklyn, NY, to help close my late uncle's apartment, the phone rang. It had been a bad week; I didn't need more bad news....
It was the ACC. They had a space for me, after all! Lucky #15 on the waiting list came through.
You can find me at
February 20-21 (wholesale) February 22-24 (retail),
10 am to 6 pm
American Craft Council Show, Baltimore, MD.
Come to visit; come to buy. It is an AMAZING show! Trust me, I was a patron for years before I became an artist IN the show!!!
With roughly one month to go before the ACC show, I remain ONE spot away from entry in the Wholesale-Retail part of the show. Not that I wish ill on anyone, but it would be VERY nice to make it into the show again, particularly since I have a start to my wholesale line of goods….some “under the sea,” some Judaica, and some stone circling. AND I can make a go of it as wholesale items. Huzzah! The DNA kelp tube is one as long as I use a pre-made toggle rather than one of my hand-sewn ones. (See below for the more custom version.)
I can also customize it with pearl closures, etc.
Then there are some new RETAIL goodies that are in the $1200-1300 range (or up).
All I need is one more space and the game will be on!
And, in case you were wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks….I was saying Aloha to the Big Island and Oahu for the first time. What a trip…lots of walking and eating avocados off the tree, hiking and sharing with friends who live there, hanging out in B&Bs on both sides of the Big Island and nibbling poke (an acquired taste that I have acquired!) at a restaurant recently visited by the President. Both John and I needed the time away
But now it’s down to work….. Beading, writing, and beading and writing. AND waiting to be a grandma for the first time, so there’s a bit of knitting thrown in for good measure, too! Check out my facebook page for my A-to-Z list of not-entirely-serious names for our soon-to-be-produced grandson.
AND SAVE THE LAST WEEK IN FEBRUARY FOR THE ACC CRAFT SHOW IN BALTIMORE. STAY TUNED!!!!
....to be busy! With the holidays upon us -- and Hanukkah behind us--it's time to get wound up to begin 2013 with a bang....I've got a series of new pieces -- one-of-a-kind and limited edition churning out as I write.
The double helix necklace is being developed in a multitude of colors. The white-on-white with pearls at the closure sold for the holidays (see above). A wonderful gift and most reasonably price for the work involved. I've now been working on many other colors, including a pale pink seed and white crystal bugle with a mabe pearl closure....
And I finally finished the most amazing beaded ammonite asymmetrical necklace seen below. Working on a number of other specials for the Spring show.
Currently, I am a mere 4 places from getting into the ACC show in Baltimore again this year again. It would be Wholesale-Retail, but it would be IN the show again. After so much disappointment in 2012, I truly hope that 2013 begins to turn around. I've applied to and am waiting to hear from a number of other shows, so stay tuned. New pictures and a new look for the booth are in the works as well.
Drop me a note if you have an interest in the DNA necklace in special colors. It's a perfect bridal necklace, and I can even hang crystals on the inside for some additional "pop." Head over to my website (www.theafine.com) and leave me a message; or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, happy holidaze everyone! May 2013 be a beautiful year for us all!
It's December; I'm wait-listed for the American Craft Council show. The list of rejections grows at an alarming pace. It feels a bit depressing to have had such an UP year last year and what may well be a DOWN year this coming year...at least from a sales and shows perspective.
I'm considering new pictures -- or at least different pictures.
The GOOD news is that my creativity is alive and well.
I completed a fabulous undersea necklace that would be so stunning on a bride with a strapless gown....Picture of the work will come in my next post. In the meantime, I share a focal piece I did as part of a necklace for a friend. Bead embroidery....not something I do often, and I know why!
It features a wonderful cabochon by Marsha Neal...it's in a burnt red shade and most striking. It was a custom job; the friend chose the cab and the colors. I got to make them sing together!
And whole new series of pieces using bow-tie beads is underway....They're what I call the lazy woman's right-angle-weave beads. I've got one in two-tone....reminds me a bit of Moorish design, or perhaps a starfish unzipped....Picture will be posted soon....
Keep good thoughts about upcoming show juries in mind for me!! And do keep fingers crossed that I get into ACC again from my place on the waiting list! If not, I WILL be there, nonetheless, helping out a wonderful beader and colleague, Kathy King. Her work is AMAZINGLY different....she works her beads sideways and the thread is a key design element. What is so gratifying about beading is how each of us works with the same media and it yields such entirely distinct and different results!
I WILL persevere....
In the meantime, be in touch, particularly if you need a last-minute gift for a special someone for the holidays! My beaded beads and tiny sparkly pendants make wonderful (and unusual) stocking-stuffers.
Well, as we get ready for Thanksgiving (family all coming to us for the first time in a long time...and a 23 pound turkeyto cover the spread....in every sense of the word), I'm also getting ready for a small local show. It's the annual "Shop 'til You Drop" event at Synergy, a wonderful fitness center in Ellicott City, Maryland. It's 6:30-9:30 on November 30. Details and directions can be found at the website noted below.
I'm but one of many artists and merchants showing (and, we hope, selling) many different goods and services.
I'll have jewelry from earrings to statement neck-pieces. And, you still have time to place a special order for that special someone! So, if you're in the area, do come to the show.
For directions and to see the list (and pretty pictures) of the artists and merchants at the show, go to the following link:
With the uptick of interest in things football in both DC and Baltimore, I can even fashion a wonderful necklace for you in team colors to show your support. [Hint, hint: they're also good for collegiate colors, even high school colors!!] AND, there are items for brides and bridal parties, too!
I've got LOTS of new things to share, and even a few pieces that I have been asked to make and remake!
Hope to see you there! And, in the meantime, enjoy the turkey, but enjoy the family even more!!
So it's up and down andup and down!
I'm not at all sure that I'll be doing many shows in 2013....I'm wait-listed at some (e.g., ACC Baltimore and Atlanta) and have been rejected (SIGH....SIGH) at others (e.g., Smithsonian, Germantown Friends (Philly area)). Many others still hang in the balance. Yet, I persevere.
I'll be heading over on November 30 to a Shop til You Drop event at a local women's health facility (Synergy) in Ellicott City. It's a local event, and should be fun. AND I'm prepping a few kits to upload to my website and a preparing for a few classes for down the road.
Above is an example of what I'm planning to be teaching.
It's half of a necklace that I hope to be teaching with a colleague (Robert Altschuler) at an art convening in April in Ohio......
We hope to soon announce its acceptance. It'll be a two-part series of classes--the rope is one; the clasp and focal is the other. Roberta does the rope (slither like a snake); I do the focal and clasp (bead like an Egyptian). Together, at the end of the two classes, participants will have produced Nefertiti's Necklace.
The other half is at the bottom of this post
The best news is that you don't have to know ANYTHING about beading to participate!
Between now and then, I get to make Thanksgiving, travel, bead, and plan to become a grandma! It's quite the roller coaster, nest ce pas?
This blog is where Thea Fine, Beading Design meets Fine WordCrafters (my writing/editing activities). I hope you find it a happy collision of my two artful worlds.