Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Leave it Running

Inspiration is like water. It flows all on its own, and while it's possible to dam it up and slow it down, it's better to let it do what it does. Flow. I know that if I use it as it comes along, there will always be more right behind it. There always has been. In an Inspirational Rainy Season, it might be hard to keep up with the floods that sometimes happen, and now and then there will come a drought, when I wonder if I'll ever see another drop of Inspiration again. I always do though. Always. I know I can rest in the dry seasons, trusting that the Flow will return. When it does, and I use it, it just keeps coming. If I don't use it, it diverts itself to some other outlet, because it depends on us, all of us, for expression. There's an endless supply, so the best thing is to just turn on the Inspirational Faucet, and leave it running.

Today is Tuesday. I'm leaving for Mexico on Thursday. I have a million things to do, but on Sunday I was swept away by a new bead idea that would not wait until I come back from my trip. I spent the day in the studio, and much of the evening. I tried everything that came to me. Some of it worked. Some didn't. But by the time I had cleaned everything up on Monday morning, I knew I was onto something. I call them HeartStones, and I think you're going to like them as much as I do...


I live in the desert, and I'm going to spend a week by the ocean. That's got to be a good thing for body, mind, heart & soul, and yes, for Inspiration. I'm leaving the Faucet running while I travel. I'll have a camera and a notebook with me at all times, and when I come back, I'll be ready to splash around in the studio again. Usually when I go on vacation, I have to be dragged off the beach when it's time to go home, but this time it might be Inspiration that lures me home. What a surprise. What a lovely surprise...

Monday, January 23, 2012

January Bead Giveaway Winner

We have a winner! Bella Chic aka Gina!


"Bella Chic aka Gina has left a new comment on your post "Here's to Creative Maladjustment":
Very awesome quote! Thanks for the chance to win your giveaway :)
"

Please email your address to me so I can send you your bead! I'm leaving for Mexico early Thursday morning, so might have to send this to you when I get back. If you see this and get right back to me, I'll send it off before I leave.

Congratulations! And thanks everyone for participating! We'll do it again in February. Every blog comment and every new mailing list subscriber will be added to the drawing. Starting... now!

~~~

Update - this winner did not claim her prize, so I drew a new winner on Feb.11...


"Anonymous  to kim
show details Jan 16
Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Here's to Creative Maladjustment":

Kim, artists and thinkers who are not joiners and who don't have a political or group voice are sometimes call "The Cultural Creatives" - a term coined by Ray and Anderson in a book by that title. They maintain those 50 million CCs are changing the world. Vegans and artists are obvioiusly a part of that very independent movement. Norine"

Congratulations Norine! Please contact me with your mailing info!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Attention

This is what's caught my attention today. I have several more in the kiln, and might share some of them in a day or two, but the one on the right is mine... It will remind me to get out of the way, stop complicating things, and keep it simple. The simpler the better when it comes to beads like these. Enough is just right.


The Official 2012 Bead Project turns out to be nothing like I had first imagined. The only rule is No Rules, and in fact, it isn't even a project. By the powers vested in me, I hereby give myself permission to make whatever I want to, even if it's flowers, and even if it's not. I also agree to consult the Divine Universe on a regular basis, to be sure I'm listening with my eyes and hands and heart more than with my mind and bank account. And, furthermore, I promise only to make beads when making beads makes me happy, so you'll always feel the love when they come to live with you. Happy New Year. Hallelujah. Let's make beads.

The countdown to Mexico has started. A week from today we'll be sitting on the beach, sipping tasty beverages, and celebrating two of our three kids' birthdays. Yeah, it's hard to concentrate on beads right now, but I'm doing my best. I'll post a few over the weekend, and then close up the BeadShop on Tuesday and mail everything before we leave. I'll also draw a winner for the Bead Giveaway on Tuesday. I realize I haven't posted a picture of the prize yet. Hm. So distracted. Maybe tomorrow. 

Have a lovely evening, and I'll do the same.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stripes

I think we all go through periods of struggle. Maybe it comes from thinking too much. Maybe it comes from doing too much. For me, sometimes I just hit overload, and have to shut everything down and restart after a bit, just like my computer. If I force it, everything gets glitchier and glitchier, until nothing at all works. Eventually, the shut down and restart is no longer an option, but a necessity.

There's always a tipping point. For me, this time, it was that miserable failure of a meal I cooked last night that sent me over the edge, and shut me down. (You can read about it on PositivelyVegan.) Suddenly, everything I've been doing lately seemed like one big mess to me. And I know it was because I've been over-thinking all of it. This thing with the beads... to make flowers or to not make flowers, to commit to a project or abandon all goals. The need to figure it all out made it impossible to figure any of it out. And in the over-thinking of something so simple as dinner, I did myself the favor of tripping the overload switch.

Last night I read a short interview with artist, Agnes Martin. I am not a fan of her paintings. I don't understand them. The ones I've seen are stripes. Blue and white stripes on large canvasses. Just... stripes. But something she said in the interview got through to me. When asked how her painting was going several years ago, when she was in her 90's and painting in Taos, she said, "I am lost in blue..." When I read that, I knew it was time to go back and have another look at those paintings.

I got up this morning and declared it Field Trip Tuesday. I sent Rick off to work, closed my computer without so much as a backward glance to Facebook or email, and drove into town, to visit the Harwood Museum. Once inside, I walked straight back to the Agnes Martin room, where there are seven large blue and white striped paintings, hung on white walls.


I took a deep breath. I took my time. I walked slowly from one to the next, looking from far away, and from up close. I answered a text message. I looked at the brush strokes. I took my own picture. I walked around the room again. I stalled. I resisted. Finally, I sat down in the center, and just looked... for a long time.


I didn't expect anything, but I hoped for some kind of message to come through. And eventually, gradually, I began to get lost in the blue of one particular painting. I put down my phone and got out my notebook, where I wrote:


And even with this, I might be totally off, but since this was the message I got, it was right for me. Imagine the freedom to paint "with her back to the world." Imagine following a thread of inspiration as far as it will lead. Imagine having the ability to block out what anyone else might have to say, and to do the work, simply because it wants to be done. 

I am suddenly smitten with Agnes Martin. She died in 2004, so I will never get to meet her. But inspiration and encouragement can certainly come from someone who is no longer in this world. I'm finding strength in her strength, and for that, I want to hug her, although I think she probably wouldn't like that very much. 

Where to from here? I'm the last one to have that answer, and maybe also the last one to ask the question. I do know that while I'm "shut down," for the rest of Field Trip Tuesday, I'm not going to pay any attention to what anyone else "thinks" I should do. My back is to the world, at least for a little while. I still don't get the striped paintings, but I do get being lost in blue.

Meet Agnes Martin in the following two short videos. I love them both.



Monday, January 16, 2012

Here's to Creative Maladjustment

“The saving of our world from pending doom will come, not through the complacent adjustment of the conforming majority, but through the creative maladjustment of a nonconforming minority.” 
~ Rev Dr Martin Luther King Jr ~

I love that quote. I find it comforting. I'm sure he didn't mean it to apply specifically to artists and vegans, but I imagine we're included, because the Reverend Doctor was a most inclusive sort of guy. I'm taking his words in today, and feeling the love. I'm letting it be okay, and even preferable to be my creatively maladjusted self. What a relief. From here I can do my job. From a place of trying to fit in with what's "normal"... well, nothing gets done.

I still have no definitive decision regarding the Flower Beads. As much as I want to turn the idea of A Year Without Flowers into a project, I'm not sure I have the stamina, or the passion it takes to do, or not do, something for an entire year. Anything less seems... weak. To me anyway. Blah, blah, blah. Living in my head can be exhausting. 

It's taken me half a month to get around to doing a Bead Giveaway. I really do intend to do this every month, and maybe next month I'll be better organized. This time around, we have only about a week to do this, because I'm going to Mexico on the 26th. I don't know what the prize is yet. Hmmm, maybe one of those Flower Beads in my stash. Yes. That's it. I'll post a pic later. For now, if you want to win, just leave a comment on this blog, or my other one, PositivelyVegan. To keep it fair, just leave one comment per post, but you can comment on as many older posts as you like, and you can comment on both blogs every day. The other way to enter is to sign up for my mailing list. If you've done that since the last Giveaway, I've already got you in the contest. I did think that far ahead! So now, comment away. And the more thoughtful, the better.

I have an ulterior motive in this. Well, two actually. I love to see the discussions that happen here when you all open up and join in. I love the sense of community. I love that you begin to get to know each other. I love the connection. That's coming from my "change the world" side. My "a girl's gotta make a living" side wants hits and comments to my blogs because it makes them more visible to search engines. On a good day I'll get around 100 hits to this blog, and maybe 40 to the other one. "Real Bloggers" get 10,000 hits and upward in a day... I'll probably never be Real, but that's okay. I promise to stay creatively maladjusted, and to keep trying to make the world a better place for all of us to live. I have beads, food, and love to offer, and that's a pretty good place to start.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No Custom Orders

A comment from my CyberFriend Zoe yesterday suggested that I might do only custom orders for flower beads. It reminded me that I haven't really talked about the custom order thing in a long time, and there are probably quite a few of you who wonder why I won't do custom work. So many topics are blog-worthy, and I think this is one of them. So here's my story...

Since very early in my beadmaking life, I've had a couple of rules that have kept me (relatively) sane. "No Schools or Churches" is the first one. It became clear very quickly that I would not find my customers in these shows, surrounded by plastic canvas kleenex box covers, painted ceramic angels, and crocheted pot holders. Rule Number 2 is "No Custom Orders," and while it's every bit as important as the first Rule, it's the one I tend to break every now and then, just to test it... or myself.

My first custom order came from a friend of my sister's, many years ago. She was a bride, who wanted a necklace to wear with her slinky cream colored velvet wedding dress. She "knew exactly" what she wanted - a strand of small, clear beads with little white flowers. A simple enough request, so I agreed to do it, made a few sample beads, and mailed them to her. I got them back, with a note asking for a "little more color"... So I tried pale colored backgrounds with white flowers, and sent her several more. They came back. And we did this several more times, until she finally asked for dark green with white flowers - a far cry from the clear and white she was sure she wanted in the beginning.

I made the green and white necklace, and she was very happy with it. I, on the other hand, was super frustrated, and had spent so much time on it that I could never be paid for all the work (and postage). I ended up gifting it to her as a wedding present, and made a bracelet for myself out of all the rejected beads. I still have it, and I pull out the No Custom Orders Bracelet every so often, to remind myself of why I have this rule.

But did I learn from this? Not exactly. Time and again I have weakened and agreed to do a custom bead or piece of jewelry for someone who, of course, "knew exactly what they wanted." Like the friend who wanted a big bead in gold and black. Against my better judgement, I got out the gold foil, and made three beads for her to choose from. This is another peril of custom orders. I know I can't "see" the vision of what someone else wants, so I make several versions, hoping to get it right. Then I'm left with the others to try to sell. In this case, my friend brushed right by the beads I had made for her, and zeroed in on a huge purple and turquoise bead instead. At least she bought something, but it took me three years to find homes for those gold and black ones.

There are several more stories like these, but thankfully, not too many. Every now and then I ignore my own rule, only to be reminded once again that custom orders never work in my favor. They always take far more time, and make me far less money than just making and selling what inspires me. I know some people thrive on the challenge of custom work. I am not one of them, and that's a good thing to know about oneself.


Another friend has just reminded me of the Henry Ford quote, "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." I love that. And it's so true. Most people have no idea what they want. It's up to the creative people of the world to show them. When it comes to beads, the people with true "bead vision" usually learn to make them themselves, and share that unique vision with the world.

So if you've wondered over the years, why I'm so adamant about my No Custom Orders rule, well, now you know. I think I've finally learned my lesson. Go ahead, test me. I'm actually very good now at the Clear and Loving No, as in No custom orders, no way in the world, but thank you very much for asking.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Decision Time


Change one thing, and you change everything. Move a rock and energetically, the entire world ripples and shifts in response. Shift your thinking, and your whole life changes with it. I'm doing a lot of thinking these days, a lot of changing. Nothing big. Just little adjustments in trajectory. And each one leads to another, so I'm finding myself surprised on a daily basis at What Happens Next.

The bead thing is insistently in the center of my focus. I have choices. Always have. I can keep doing it the same way I've always done it, or... I can move a rock. Or maybe even a boulder. I had this idea yesterday, that appeared out of Nowhere. I love that place, Nowhere, where so many cool things are just waiting to be discovered. If ideas had titles, like books, and maybe they do, this one would be, A Year Without Flowers. And the premise would be: What would happen if I spent a whole year making only beads I've never made before, with not a single flower in the bunch?

Wow... that's radical enough to scare even me. I'm a big fan of change, but this seems sort of crazy. I'm famous for flower beads, for goodnesssakes. Why would I want to mess with that? Then again, why wouldn't I? Well, for one thing, it could turn out to be business suicide. But really only if I intend it to be. Another option is to jump off that bridge on a foggy morning, totally trusting that the net is there, and just enjoying the flight.

Imagine what might come from pushing myself to do something new on a regular basis. I might come up with some fabulous new beads, for starters. I might have more fun doing it. I might sell more. Or I might alienate all my regular customers. Or I might find new ones. I might be surprised at the number of people who are willing to support the flow of creativity. I might be sad at the number of people who want to control it. I might even bump beads back to hobby status and do something entirely different for a living... I mean really, with one little shift in direction, absolutely everything can, and probably would, change.

I'm starting to see this Idea (which has just this moment been promoted to capital "I" status) as a whole project, more than just the beads. A year-long creativity experiment lends itself so nicely to writing as well as beadmaking. And while I'm not at all inclined to write an actual book, I do see it as a way of reviving a flabby blog. After all, it's all part of this Long Way Home we've all signed up for here in the Earth life we're currently living. Hmmm... yes indeed, the wheels are turning now.

Will I do it? Not sure yet. But as I talk about it here, I'm doing a lot of internal processing. And the more I think about it, the better I like the Idea. A Year Without Flowers. A grand experiment in creativity. It sounds like fun. It sounds scary. It sounds challenging. It even sounds like work. And certainly, it sounds like a huge commitment, to you, yes, but mostly to myself. Will I do it? I'm literally deciding as I'm writing this this morning.

What Happens Next might surprise all of us. I'll certainly keep you posted...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Starting Again

It's been an interesting couple of weeks in my own personal CyberLand. I joined the mass exodus from GoDaddy, moving all my domain names to another server. It's a long story. Not important to my story here. You can research all the hubbub if you want. Anyway, I moved 5 domains successfully, I thought, and then a week later, something glitched in the transfer, and nobody, including me could get to this blog. I read the instructions over and over, did what they said, contacted tech support with my "urgent" message, and three days later... finally got an answer. I changed one little thing, and a few minutes later, magically, miraculously, I was back.

While all this was going on, I got numerous emails from friends/customers/readers who were concerned not only about the whereabouts of my site, but touchingly, about my well-being. Without them, I might have seriously considered closing the blog all together. I mean, really, how important is it? Just another blog in an ocean, a galaxy, an infinity of blogs. In the big picture, it doesn't matter a hoot. But I live in a small picture, and I guess it sort of matters to me, and maybe to about 12 other people who read it regularly. And maybe that's enough, because when I thought it was gone, I did everything I could think of to keep it.

My other Post-Holiday CyberProject was to hold a BigAss Bead Sale, in hopes of clearing out the inventory I didn't sell at the local holiday show, and in the process, clearing mental space, making room for new inspirations to come through. There's little incentive to make more stuff when there's already too much stuff sitting here looking at me. It's like when the fridge is full of leftovers, there's not much reason to make new food. So I had a sale. The biggest sale I've ever had. Times being what they are, people are still stuck in a mentality of lack. We believe we can't have, and don't deserve the little niceties in life, and instead spend our money on... well, mostly crap, because it's cheap.

My sale was something of an experiment. I wanted to see what people are really willing to spend on beads these days. I thought I'd finally entice those people who have been on my mailing list for years to buy something they've wanted all that time. I listed over 100 beads, and have only 2 left now. Not bad, not bad at all. But I sold most of them at less than half of what I used to get for them And most interestingly, almost all of them went to familiar customers who already have many, many of my beads. I saw a few new names, but not very many. So now I'm perplexed, and feeling somewhat... tentative... about beads in general, and where to take them from here.

Since I've tried and failed for the gazillionth time to figure out what people want, offering what they'd said they wanted, only to discover once again they were just kidding, I'm back to my Uppity Artist ways, which allows me to do anything I want, and just hope for the best. I'm tired to my toes of making flower beads. Maybe they'll bloom again in the spring. I don't know and I don't care. I'm currently smitten with the idea of filling little glass globes with beautiful things. So there's that to continue, in various forms. And then there's just play time at the torch, which is something I forget about when I'm all head-down-gotta-make-a-living.

I've spent a few days in the studio, just playing with an idea that surfaced in my sleep - something that's happening more and more, as I welcome and encourage Sleep Thoughts. I cleared away all the old glass, and deliberately pulled out just a handful of colors, and some white, black, and sparkling goldstone. I cleaned a bunch of clear, and traded in my ever-present tray of 2mm CZs for even tinier ones. I can barely see them, but they're just the right thing. Blending, spinning, stretching and twirling all this together, I turned out a batch of beads that make me so happy I don't even want to sell them. But of course then Business Brain steps in, clears her throat, and reminds me... a girl's gotta make a living. Sigh... okay... I'll share, but I'm keeping a few, and making more, just for me.


I needed some help naming them. I texted a bunch of possibilities to my daughter, like Ribbons, Streamers, and even... Clown Guts... hahaha! I like that one, but realize it has some marketing limitations. Almost instantly, she fired back, They look like that Wonka candy, Laffy Taffy to me. And that was that. Laffy Taffy. Perfect. Let's not take all this fun stuff too seriously. Beads are here to make us happy. Somebody else can make great art. I want to make your eyes happy, your heart sing, and I want to decorate everything that will stand still.

So here I am, holidays over, messes cleaned, space cleared, glitches fixed, ready to roll again. Getting back to creative work is not the same as going back to a regular job. Sometimes it requires a start-over. As it turns out, I do want to keep this blog going, and I do want to keep making beads. The important thing in a creative start-over is to do at least something, if not everything, differently. There's the challenge, and... there's the fun.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Baby Steps


I just love a new year. It's like meeting a new friend - someone I'm excited to see every day, someone who offers new experiences in my life, someone who seems happy to see me too. It's kind of like new love. Anything can happen, all possibilities are open, and there's that little twinkle that makes me sort of giddy.

I don't like New Year's Resolutions though. I think they're something that sets us up for failure, because they're usually too big and ambitious to ever be realistic. We jump in with all our energy and enthusiasm, and then burn out quickly, like a long distance runner who bursts out at top speed, rather than pacing herself. Many times in the past, I've made long lists of resolutions, and managed to overwhelm myself and give up before I even got started. 

These day I take a different approach. While a new year is a lovely fresh start, as the first few weeks go by, and the freshness fades, it helps me to remember to see every single day as a new creation. After all, the calendar is a human invention, and would mean very little if you could zoom out to the edges of the Universe and look at the real Big Picture. Every day we continue with a certain amount of what we were doing the day before, but we also start over, and have the option of doing some things, or everything, differently, more creatively, and with new enthusiasm. What if we got out of bed every morning, and greeted the day with a Happy New Year! ? Seems like it might be a fun experiment.

I have a long and growing list of things I'd like to do. Some are goals, some are projects, and some are just small changes I'd like to make in the way I manage my time. But I'm not making any resolutions. One reason resolutions don't work for me (and a lot of other people) is they're so... resolute. Flexibility is important, and so is leaving room for all the things I haven't thought of yet. I'm finding that it works best to focus on something I want to get done, and rather than map out a big intimidating strategy, just come up with one thing that will get me closer to my goal. Just one thing, the next thing, and then the next and the next. It's all baby steps. We're all always learning, and in many ways, we're all beginners.

I'd like to see us ease up on ourselves, encourage ourselves and others, and nurture and cooperate rather than compete, as if we were talking to babies, saying, "Yes! That's good! Take another step sweetie." I have a feeling we'd all get a lot more done, and we'd all be happier, more secure in ourselves, and more creative and giving with others. I'm looking forward to a year of small goals, changes in plans, fresh starts, flexibility, and happy surprises I haven't even begun to imagine yet. No big plans, no resolutions. Just baby steps.