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Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Thumper Principle

...which states, "Iffn you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all!"  It's a principle I believe in and apply as often as possible.  I am far from perfect, but I do make conscious effort.

But I am not sure how to apply this idea to my own work.  My husband was a metalsmith and maker of art jewelry when I met him in 1977.  He had a friend who was a potter, and they traveled to art fairs all over the US together.  The potter was a very good ceramist, and a better salesman.  All day, each day at the fair, he repeatedly sold his "best pot!"  It was like watching performance art.  I wonder if that is the best policy when it comes to art work, especially work you make to sell?

Not every creative effort results in the same success.  I just scanned an article on Beading Daily about "What it Takes to be a Designer of the Year."  Jean Campbell, editor of Beadwork magazine, talked about meeting deadlines and not achieving perfection each time, but ending up with many good pieces.  I think that is reality.  I have a big box of UFO's (Un Finished Objects) and usually, I have the good sense and taste to put things in the box that I find less than perfect.  But not this time.

Not that there is anything badly wrong with my new piece.  And I guess that is why I went ahead and posted it.  But it's not meeting some of my usual criteria.

I looked at LOADS of images for the "Sizzling Sunshine and Soothing Water" challenge.  And I kept loving the sunrises and sunsets on water.  The colors were vibrant, and the images breathtaking.  And the idea of creating a reflected image was pretty exciting.  I decided to be literal with the imagery, and remembered a PBS program featuring a painter, Bob Ross, who painted a beautiful landscape as you watched, while talking about "happy little trees."   It was so soothing!  So I decided I would bead a "happy little sunrise."

I found the nearly perfect image in a book of photography by Chuck Haney and John Reddy, (who was my back door neighbor growing up in Helena, Montana) called "Montana, Wild and Beautiful II." 

Mr. Ross (the PBS painter) frequently made his paintings in pretty shapes, so I chose a half circle, like a rising sun, and he also took liberties with his paintings, seeming to follow his heart as he chose what things to include in this paintings.  So although I wanted to represent this particular photo, I had looked at MANY reflected dawn photos, and complied ideas from several of them as I worked.

I am not a frequent bead embroiderer, but I ended with a reasonable sunrise, and then fringed in the lake, using a scan of my embroidery, flipped and scaled, as a guide.

I struggled with the fringe.  My original intent was to end up with a circle, half embroidery and half fringe, but the fringe didn't want to lay happily in the half circle.  I used small glass drops as "fringe weights" but at the bottom, the drops crowded each other, and after posting the piece as it was, I de-activated it and re-created the fringe, trying to attenuate the bottom of the circle, as though the image perspective was warped in the expanse of lake stretchng toward me, to give the fringe a chance to hang straight. 

The best things about this piece are the intense color and the mobility of the fringe.  I really like the fact that the fringe behaves like water, rippling and disturbing the reflected image with movement.

But I don't know that I personally could ever wear the work.  It's substantial, and I am a small person with a small face and small features.  In terms of wearability, this piece is for a larger person than me.  And the color is so vibrant and striking that it has a playful quality, which was not my original goal.

Not a loss, by any means, but not what I meant either.   So, should I keep my yap shut, or tell the truth?  At my son's elementary school, students are asked not to say anything that is not true, kind, and necessary.  Well, it's certainly true.  This piece is not a success on all fronts.  And kind?  Well, I don't mind the truth, so I am not hurt by it.  IF someone chose to buy it, and found out how I felt, would that be unkind?  Maybe.  But if I reveal my thoughts before-hand, does that remove any unkindness?  And necessary?  Well, I am an honest person, and it might just be necessary for me to come clean.

So there you are.  My best reflected sunrise effort, and a disclaimer of truth.  Do you ever make things you are not fully happy with? 


  1. My ex-husband used to always say (when I made something I wasn't crazy about), "Someone will love it." And someone always did. The piece is beautiful...and as you say, it will suit a certain kind of person. I find a lot of customers don't give a hang about anything but the fact that they love the piece. I recently had a customer who bought a piece & when I tried to tell her about it, she said, "I don't care. I just want it. And I'll wear it." Go figure, huh? Nice entry.

  2. We are always harder on ourselves and color is very much a personal choice. I love your honesty but would rephrase it if I were talking to my customers rather than my friends. I believe it's important not to disparage our work but to show what you've shown here, the beautiful inspiration, the wonderful design process, and that lucious fringe. We had a quilt challenge once where we pulled 3 crayons and had to make something from those colors. It's a great opportunity to work outside your comfort zone, the end result was some of our best work, yet many didn't like what they did because of the color. Size is also a choice, Sherri Serafini is a tiny gal and she rocks in her jewelry. If you're selling the piece you want the women buying it to feel great about her choice.

  3. Linda, thank you, you are so right, someone will love it and I love the story about... "I don't care, I just want it."

    And Christine, I agree. Probably best not to disparage my work to buyers. It's not bad, just not what I thought it would be. I will not link to this post in my Etsy description, as I usually do.

    But I must say, I feel better, having told my truth...

  4. Thank you for this insightful post, Marsha! I agree with Linda, someone will love this vibrant and beautiful necklace! And we can all thank you for sharing your thoughts on the design process - often a difficult one.

    For myself, some things just seem determined to go in their own direction, no matter what I may have had in mind when I sat down to bead. I don't always love the end result, but I try to remind myself that journey is the destination.

  5. Marsha, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As a creator of wonderful things, you have extremely high expectations of yourself. I think this is a perfectly good necklace, I love the idea of the reflection and the colors are stunning and someone will buy this and think it's the most amazing thing ever. And for the honesty thing, you made it and you shall be able to have the freedom of criticizing your own work as much as you want. And to answer the question, I know by the time I am done with a piece, I always see the flaws and there is very few that I feel very proud of, but they sure make the rest of it worthwhile :))

  6. I I agree with what others have said - I think it's a remarkable piece and the right person will find it and want it. I try never to be "too honest" with my customers, after all, I want them to buy it, right? If there is something that bothers me about a particular piece, I either say nothing, or maybe point it out as an "interesting element". I think you'll find there are large women out there who will pay a very good price for a piece of jewelry that will fit them. I would definitely market it toward them, subtly of course.

    And I really like how you finished the fringe - it's beautiful!

    BTW if I ever go to Minneapolis, you'll be the first person I call. ;)


  7. "Haute Ice Beadwork" has been included in the fourth edition of this years Thinking of Christmas Gifts in July. I hope this helps to attract many new customers.

  8. I think the piece is great! You've captured your inspiration perfectly! I'm also in awe of your fringe. I am HORRIBLE at it and just gave up a few years ago. Beautiful work!

  9. Thanks for finding something to like Marcie and Kate! And Fishhawk, thanks for the shout-out!

  10. Love the piece and the story...there is a special someone for each item that emerges.
    -Eva Maria

  11. Thank you Eva Maria. You are so right!

  12. I'm a little late getting to this post, but I certainly agree with others. I guess another way to look at it is that how on earth could your personal taste overlap perfectly with everyone else in the world's? I recently had a similar experience with a dainty, feminine necklace I made years ago. I've never worn it. While I can see that parts of it worked very well and are cute, I just don't think it's all that great. And then I got a message online from a classmate who had seen the picture in my facebook album. She asked if there was any way that I still had it, and would I be willing to sell it to her. She thought it was perfect. Good thing it was still in great shape since I had packed it up neatly in the back of a dark closet! I felt like my necklace was a rescue pet..good thing it found an owner to love it!

  13. Summer, it's never to late to join the party and I enjoyed your comment and especially your BLOG! The mushrooms are SOooooooo beautiful. Your jewelry is so organic and scientifc. I looked for a place to follow, but didn't see one. Sweet blog.