Sunday, October 24, 2010

Beaded Medallions

Harriet Tubman Medallion

Beadweavers know the joy of delayed gratification. It's the nature of the medium. Nothing happens quick with seed beads. But, these medallions I've been making are about as close as I get to instant gratification with seed beads. I've been turning all sorts of papers and graphics into beaded pendants. I can do a few a day. I make the bails as well, and even that is a quick twist of wire. The biggest challenge for me has been learning to work with computer graphics programs and learning the behavior of the different glues I need to use. The beading is a joy. My next challenge will be the marketing and posting on etsy. I am looking forward to seeing if these will do well as holiday gifts.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Val's Custom Prayer Vessel Necklace in Jewel Tones

The Arts and Crafts Fair in Santa Fe was 2 weeks ago. It was a wonderful weekend - fabulous autumnal New Mexico weather, awesome art, and the best tent spot. The ground under my tent was uneven, and hazardous. But my artist neighbors were the best company and support I could have hoped for. Sue Orchant, a silk artist, Maggie May Beyeler a ceramicist who employs graphic art in her unique designs, and Ginny Hogan, a painter and paper maker were all veterans compared to me. They had been doing art since like forever. Sue and I were the relative newbies with fairs - but none was greener than me. I had the added treat of shmoozing with silversmith Vicki Deane, my anonymous home-girl inspiration, now revealed (see my previous post). She was two spots down from me.

The first day was a bit rough. I had overslept, so it began with me rushing around at home. Plus, the first day includes the added stress of setting up the tent and filling it with all my wares. By the time the first customers strolled on in I had been working for hours and I was exhausted. In addition to the flutter of anticipation, the early morning chill kept me going, as did the hot coffee and breakfast burrito. All day, sales were slow for me and the ladies around me. No one even signed my "guest book". How pathetic. It was disappointing. Nonetheless, I was determined to surrender to the experience, whatever it would be. If customer enthusiasm was at a low, then I'd drink in the camaraderie.

The following day the energy was inexplicably different. People of all sorts starting strolling in early, with big smiles, and lots of interest. My guest book was filling up with names and emails. Women were trying on necklaces and earrings. People started buying my work, my beaded treasures, my painstakingly slowly produced shimmering, glittering, colorful, labors of love. They gave me money, and took them home. I felt as if I were adopting out beloved kittens and puppies. Wow! One after another. I could see Sue and Ginny making sales. Maggie was selling out!

One of the most memorable sales, was to Val. She asked if I would make her a custom prayer vessel necklace in her favorite colors. I took her order, without a deposit or a promise. I told her I'd contact her when it was complete. Then she asked if she could have it by October 14th, for her mastectomy. I thought of my class coming up on October 16th, and all the prep I still needed to do for it. "Yes, I will have it ready," I told her.

All my life I've wanted to be a healer. So much so, that I went to medical school, and worked as a doctor. Now, I've moved in a different direction, allowing myself to flow with the tide that has pulled me out to a new sea. I don't see patients anymore, just people. For the past several days I've sat in my studio, with Val's jewel tones in bead puddles on my mat. With a heart full of hope for her healing and for the gifts that illness offers, I wove Val's prayer vessel necklace. Today I put in my own prayer for her and mailed it clear across the country. Tomorrow she will receive it and can replace the prayer with her own.

I expect I will always remember this fair. I went in still feeling like a doctor, wondering what artists do besides make art, how they live, how they sell. I even gave out some public health information to a mom with questions about vaccines. But when it was over, I felt changed. I saw the joy my art brought to others. I felt the pleasure of sharing a part of myself - the ideas, the hours and the choices that go into each piece. I was inspired with the honor of being invited into the healing of a woman confronting her own mortality. I came home, cleaned out my studio and revamped it. I lit a candle, and got to work. I know the artist has landed.