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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

I want to think and talk,  for a couple posts, about plaigarism and copyright in the beading world.  I recently read, in Beadwork Magazine, an article by Marlene Blessing, the editorial director, which includes the following:

- It is unethical to copy an artist's work without that artist's permission.
- It is unethical to copy any work that has appeared in a magazine, book or website and represent it in any venue as an original design.
- It is unethical to teach a beading project that has appeared in a magazine, book or website without that artist's and publisher's permission.
- It is unethical to teach a beading project learned in another teacher's class."

Since I have named my source and quoted directly, I sincerely hope that my using these words here is not illegal in any way.  But I have to wonder, why is this information not front and center in the magazine? Why is it not on the page that tells me it is illegal to copy any part of the magazine in print so fine I need my magnifiers to read it?  Maybe it should be obvious to all concerned?

I'm going to tell you a story about how easy it is, especially as a new beader, to run afoul of these ethics.  And in another post, I am going to show you how I believe I did so myself.  In this post, you get a chance to vote on whether or not I did in the case presented here.  I don't think so, but your thinking may be different from my own.  It all involves judgement.

I started beading in August of 2007. Almost immediately I stumbled upon a call for entry for a local bead art juried exhibit called "Beads of Whimsy."  I decided, why not give that a try?  Two entries could be submitted, so I decided I would create two pieces.  In retrospect, that was both a bold and a foolish move for a spanking new beader.

The first piece began in a Right Angle Weave Workshop class.  The class was two sessions, and we could make a necklace or a bracelet, creating the RAW base in the first class and then embellishing with bicones in the second.  I got home after the first session, which was my first introduction to RAW, ripped out what I had done in class and decided I would use the technique and basic necklace shape taught to create a piece based on one I had seen in a book, and admired. I think most beaders begin because they love something they have seen and want to make something similar. 

So there are my code violations.  First, I tried to make something like an award winning necklace I admired, and second,  my work began in a class.  Although not specifically spelled out in the "Code," original work probably only rarely begins in a class.  But in my defense, my finished piece is not remotely recognizable as a project from the class, which included bicones (or stone chips) and no fringe.  I can't show you that though, because I'd have to copy the class material, which is protected by copyright.  You would have to take my word on it.  Or since a class was involved, I am condemned.  Your judgement is called for.

My "DaVinci Code Book Club Necklace"
As my homework, I created the base for the necklace and in the second class session, I made a start on fringing the piece, and then worked on it for weeks.  I have always loved gradation as a design element, so I thought I would gradually blend my colors.  As I worked on the piece, I listened to The DaVinci Code on CD.  The black and white became symbolic in my mind of the men and women in the ritual ceremonies in the book, and the apple focal, which I had made for me by lampwork artist Marcia Parker, was the perfect touch.

 I think publishing a photo of the piece that was my inspiration here would be illegal, as I would have to scan it, and that act alone would constitute copyright infringement, but I was able to find a photo of it on the net (please click on this link) with a thank you to our friends at Fire Mountain Gems, who sponsor the Bead and Button Magazine Bead Dreams competition.  This work won a second place award for finished jewelry in 2004.  Copying this piece would have been in violation of the "Code of Ethics" for sure.

But did I know that?  Now of course, at this point in my beading career, I had not read the fine print in the magazines and books I was looking at.  And I also had not read copyright law.  I had been costume designer for competitive ballroom dancers for twenty years, and in the fashion world, design trends come and go very quickly in the form of knock-offs.  A professional dancer appears on the circuit with a great gown, and everyone wants to look just like her!  I had personally designed a gown that was copied so frequently in the course of a few months that all 6 finalists for the national championships of the American Smooth style one year were wearing a knock-off of my design.  The next year, it was all over Europe as well. And I have copied as much as I have been copied.  But for me, it is business as usual.  I am not saying it's right or wrong.  It just is.

Test this for yourself.  Watch a big awards show, the Ocars, the Tonys, Golden Globes; you pick.  Observe how the ladies are dressed, especially the ones who look really fantastic.  Then visit Macy's or Bloomies or even JC Penney in a couple weeks, and I guarantee knockoffs of the best looks with be on the racks for you to purchase for your prom.

So the idea that I might have done anything wrong here, especially given that my outcome is both structurally and visually different than the work that inspired it, did not even occur to me.  But if you look closely, the basic design elements are the same.

In retrospect, I believe this piece is my own. I don't think it is a result the teacher of the class would ever have expected, and I do not think it is a copy of my initial source of inspiration, even a "derivative" one, for those of you who know copyright law. But as I said earlier, this all involves judgement.  I show you both here, and invite you to vote in the poll.  Is it a copy?  Is it an original work?  Should I be crediting the artist who made the original necklace with the design or inspiration?  Should I have asked for her permission to sell the necklace on Etsy in my shop?  It is for sale.  I didn't ask for permission.  Am I ethical?  What do YOU think?

In my next post, look for the other "Beads of Whimsy" entry, which I think DID cross the line.  Check back in a few weeks and vote again.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A New Skill Set

I have this idea for a piece, but I don't think it can structurally be beadwoven.  I think it will have to be embroidered in order to maintain its shape.  I really want to make this piece, so, time to learn bead embroidery. I have bead embroidered on lace with reasonable success, but that was soft and flat. This will have to be done on a stiff backing and then have a layer of support inside as well as a lining.  So I decided it was time to acquire a new skill set.

I chose a cabochon I really loved, so as to make sure I would give this my best effort and finish instead of giving up in frustration, which I wanted to do several times, even with the cabochon of azurite with malachite inclusions leading the way. 

I had purchased some backing from Nicole Campenella at Beadwright on Etsy, and chose a beautiful turquoise piece.  I ransacked my bead stash for likely suspects, guessed a layout, and glued on the cab.  I had some unpolished malachite seed beads and used them as part of the bezel with pretty good results.  OK, so far so good.  But I didn't like the feel of the backing in my hands.  It's wonderful backing, mind you, and is available in a multitude of colors.  But I like the feeling of woven glass beadwork in my hands.  Something to adjust to.
I felt OK about what I did as I went along, but realized there was a skill to the layout that I lack.  I read the experts, Kummli, Seraphini and Eaton, and they all said "just play with the beads" so I played along.  I discovered that it might be best to complete one  phase and tie off my thread before starting something new, so if I change my mind, I can rip without worrying about what came before and after.  I also realized that a color contrast in a bead used to secure another was a LOUD statement, and somewhat playful in effect.  Good info as well.

When it came time to finish the edge I was dumbfounded.  There HAS to be a better solution than brick stitch or picot with stitches visible on the back side!  But no, that was the consistent recommendation.  I could not do it,  I did an invisible pick stitch on the back side.  I will have to do some playing with that because I just don't think that visible stitch will ever feel good to me.

And then, time to add fringe.  Had to be through the brick stitch edging.  I like layers of fringe, but settled for one BIG layer.   Another thing to figure out!  I used an attachment directly from Jamie Cloud Eakin, which works well with the mega-fringe, and strung a neckband from the leftover beads.

I'm glad I kept going and didn't allow myself to give up.  I like the result, but see TONS of room for improvement.  I learned alot!  Experience is so different from thinking you understand, from reading about it, how something is done.   Best do it again and get a little more of that under my belt before the pearls arrive.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Serendipity For My Sister

Two years ago, my sister Cara gave me three cabochons for Christmas.  She told me that my mother loved one of them, and she loved another.  I made up the one my mom had indicated she liked, as a gift for her 87th birthday.  It's always good to know what might be wanted when trying to create a gift, even for someone you know well.

Last summer, my sister told me that what she most wanted for her December birthday and Christmas combined was the cabochon she had given me, transfomed into jewelry.  I got it out and thought to myself,  "OK, so you don't find instant inspiration here.  Just make a start, and something will occur to you."

It was dark Payne's gray and creamy white, maybe a little like dalmatian jasper, but the domed surface was pitted and I was having a hard time getting past that.  I tightened the bezel at the front and flipped it over to close the back, and EUREKA!!!  On the back side was a nearly perfect image of Mount Helena, as seen from the front yard of the house my sister and I grew up in, located in Helena, Montana.  I looked for a picture of this mountain to show you, but all the ones I found online are of the East slope, and our house is on the North slope.  Sigh.
Mount Helena - The  Flat Side of the Cabochon
The shape is just right, the tree line is almost visible, and the mountain looks like it usually looks about this time of year, with a dusting of snow.  Had my sister seen this?  I had not.  Wow.  I quietly proceeded to finish the bezel and then decided to apply some snowy branch fringe to the bottom, as though you might be viewing the mountain in winter through frost or snow covered trees and shrubs.
The domed side of the cabochon, with its pits, that I didn't love,
with the twisted 8-strand rope.
Then I had another EUREKA moment, as the fringe looked both a little like the branches I was aiming for, AND roots!  MY roots.  MY SISTER's roots.  We grew up on that mountain.  Amazing how things take on meaning and beauty.  How a duty can become a delight, if you give it a chance.

Mount Helena side up , on the cubic right angle weave  rope
I made a woven bail and strung a delicate 8 strand necklace I thought would be pretty with the pendant.  This was after a lengthy struggle with the bead crochet rope I thought I would try for the first time.  Turns out, knowing how to crochet is far from all that is required for this technique. FAIL!  I liked the 8 strand, but the scale of the bail meant that it had to be twisted to hang nicely and I was still wishing for that bead crochet rope I could not do.  So I looked at Heather Collin's brilliant and clear tutorial for cubic RAW  (Thank you 'Mam! What a fun and fast technique!) and made a second, interchangeable neck strap for the piece that I like even better than the 8 strand.  But I'll send her both, since either could be worn by itself as well.

The 8 strand rope and the CRAW rope, without the cabochon pendant.
My sister does not read my blog, so even though this is a Christmas gift, I think I am safe publishing premature pictures of it here. Don't spoil the surprise for her.  Shhhhhh, do not share with Cara until Christmas!

Monday, November 29, 2010

With a Name Like Haute Ice...

 It seems obvious that I would love bling and icy sparkle.  The fact that I grew up in Montana and live in Minnesota where winter lasts a long time and is filled with ice and snow probablly figures into the equation as well.   I think it's beautiful here all year 'round, but I am especially fond of winter.  (And fall!  Oh wait, spring and summer are really great too...)  I think most of my work is landscape or botanical in style and I am finishing a new piece for the December Etsy Beadweavers challenge that, once again, fits my norm.  Or at least I am trying to finish it!

I have complained about shipping from Fire Mountain Gems in this blog in the past, and yet, I continue to order from them (they were the only place I found the 3mm Jet Nut bicones I needed) and I fail to upgrade my shipping because their least expensive option always sounds like it will serve my purposes. I need to reconsider that.  Maybe I will write in big red letters on my FMG catalog SHIP VIA FASTEST METHOD!!! 

In any case, having all the beads from the project sitting on my beading bench, (with no way to proceed without the missing bicones) encouraged me to make some supporting items for the necklace.  I rarely make bracelets, but I had a fantastic time with this one, and I think I will maybe have to make some more of these kinds of "flat work" beadweavings.  I can see loads of room for precision and improvement, but the scale and invention was just plain fun!

The challenge for this month, chosen by Olga is "Simon and Garfunkel - Songs of Inspiration" and the task is to pick a favorite song and capture it in beads.  I chose A Hazy Shade of Winter.  Although I love the poetry, the title and the musical tone of the piece was the primary inspiration for my work here.

The necklace features the essence of what I see outside my window today.  Shimmering, pearly grey cloudy skies, through the lace of bare, dark branches.  So much subtle color in those branches!  Deep blues, browns, steely grays.  Patches of snow and icicles dangling everywhere, because it warms up and then freezes again so often this time of year.  A little wistful, and maybe a touch depressing, but beautiful.

The FedEx truck was at my house this afternoon, and I was thrilled!!!  I am so glad to have my day job back under control and to find time to bead and blog again!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fairy Tales DO Come True

I am pleased to announce that my chickens have hatched.  Cafesjian Gallery, international art dealer and gallery owner, has purchased "January Dawn."  It was such an amazing thing to contemplate that I really couldn't bring myself to completely believe it until I sent the invoice off and spoke with agent Ben, who will visit my studio to pick up the piece.  I have learned since my last post on the subject, "Don't Count Your Chickens..." that other beaded jewelry from the Minnesota State Fair Art Exhibit was also purchased for this collection, and I am thrilled for those artists as well. 

I have already discussed the inspiration for this work in the post "Which One?" but I had process photos and wanted to preserve them, as well as my three months and about 70 hours of effort, here in my blog.  Additionally, I will take this opportunity to share my final photographic efforts.  I'll start with a quick inspiration recap.

On January 13th, 2010, the dawn's orchid glow revealed hoar frost covering the landscape with breathtaking, spikey crystals of ice.  I took photos and resolved to create a necklace to honor the beauty of the morning.  In May, it was announced that my Etsy Beadweavers Team June challenge would be themed "Phenomenon" and I had the perfect subject!  I started work but quickly realized the overall project was too large and labor intensive to complete in less than a month, given my limited art time each day.

I wanted the piece to be soft and wearable.  Combining the spiky branch idea with a technique that afforded comfort and flexibility to the wearer took a while to work out. I used tubular peyote stitch in size 11 glossy white delicas to cover soft, clear plastic tubing, increasing and creating branch joins as necessary.  This required working out (with good advice from friends) a means to create a branch without pinching the join like this one.  My original idea called for overlapping branches, but I gave that up to maintain a low profile and the soft drape, letting all my branches just lay next to each other.
I worked along on the piece until mid June, when my friend Hannah asked to see how it was going.  I pinned all the components together and sent her a photo.  This was great, because it forced me to see how far I had come and how far there was yet to go.  I had all the branches begun, and about half of the Swarovski rivolis bezeled, and had just started the "frosting."  Taking progress photos often tells me more about my work than the hyper-focusing I do while working on the components. At this point, I decided the drusy teardrop did not belong in the work.  It felt heavy and earthbound to me, and although the necklace was substantial, I wanted it to be light and airy in feeling. 

Finally, by the end of June, all the branches were finished, and all the rivolis I planned to use were bezeled and I was ready to assemble them.  I concluded it would be most efficient to frost each rivoli separately, and then weave them into position, and then finally, frost the branches as a last step.  It was an interesting challenge to keep my thread from catching and tangling on the completed frost, especially as I neared the end of the project.  I found I could tell the thread where to go if I kept my intention clear all the way through each needle stroke.  I visited my elderly mother at the end of July, and the last bit of frosting was completed in her Helena, Montana living room, using a familiar TV tray (circa 1960's) as my beading bench.

"January Dawn" has been on exhibit at the Textile Center of Minnesota library for the last two months, and I have had it with me for a week for photography, which is just incredibly difficult for me.  I think white beadweaving poses unique challenges.  Here are a few new photos, which I hope capture the the essence of the work.  If you have suggestions, please let me know quick, while I can still have a new go at it!

I've added this last one to let you see how bad my struggle with black ground has been! 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Broken Rhythm

My day job has just changed my game plan!  By day, I design and make costumes for competitive ballroom dancers.  At night, I usually bead.  Last weekend, I attended a local dance event, "Minnesota Madness," and so many people stopped by my vendor booth to request new projects that I could not keep track of them all in my head. My new life will be "all dancewear, all the time" until January 9th, the day after the next local ballroom competition.

I am NOT COMPLAINING.  My day job is a good one.  I've had my own business since 1987, and it's been wonderful.  I work out of a really beautiful studio in my home, and have been able to juggle being a mom, costume designer, and most recently, a beadweaver, with ease for the most part. 

Last year was not a good year for Made for Movement, (the dancewear business) with gross income down about 45% from the year before.  I figured it was the economy, but this year, for some unknown reason, business has picked back up and I am well beyond my 2009 and 2008 sales thus far.

Thankfully, as you can see, there is jewelry, and "beading of a sort" involved in the dancewear, although most of it is done with glue instead of thread and wire.

And some of my gowns really are beaded, like this one with the fringed gauntlet and the beaded tassles on the skirt.

With all the new projects on the schedule, I am officially swamped.  I rarely enter my studio in the evening, but here I am tonight, cleaning up after a 4:30 fitting and preparing for tomorrow.

I have gotten myself into a really nice rhythm of blogging nearly weekly, and I think there will now be a syncopation in that rhythm for a while.  I'll miss it, and I'll miss beading.  But one must "make hay while the sun shines" and my dancewear sun is blazing.  I hope you, faithful readers, will keep me in mind, and look for a return in 2011. 

In the mean time I'll be at the design desk, the cutting table, and the sewing machine.  And the next time I load up my gowns in January, to attend the Snow Ball,  I'll know I'm coming home afterward to my blog and my beading.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Deck the Halls

Image from
 "Deck the Halls" is the current working title for my November Etsy Beadweavers Challenge piece.  I got to select the theme, as reward for winning the Bollywood challenge in September, and I chose "Holiday Treasure."  The idea is to choose a November or December holiday, and create a beadweaving to be worn for, or used at, the event.  I celebrate the Winter Solstice, (along with Christmas and Hanukkah) and see it as the genesis of most other December holiday traditions.  The use of holly, and other evergreen plants, as indoor decoration at the time of long, dark, and cold winters has been symbolic of the eventual return of warmth and the growing season.  Holly has the added mythic benefits of providing protection from evil spirits with its spiky leaves and serving as safe resting places for friendly forest fairies.

So... I intend to "deck the NECK" with boughs of holly.

I have been working on holly leaves and berry clusters and a pretty pleased with my results thus far.

I have begun stems as well, to assemble my leaves and berries on, and think there will also be a bow, to tie the cluster together and form a focal point, but it's all still a bit fuzzy in my head at this point.  I am really having a great time with it though.  Are you making a holiday piece?  Tell me about it!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tila Beads

I took a class on Sunday, a rare event for me, being as paraniod as I am about copyright infringement.  Usually, I avoid classes, (along with more than cursory glances at beading magazines) because it means having a door opened that I feel I dare not ever walk through for fear of being accused of "STEALING!!!"   Sigh.  But this class was designed by someone who teaches people how to teach classes, and whose work as a teacher I deeply admire, Diane Fitzgerald.  And it seems to me that she is always presenting technique, as well as a design, which to my way of thinking is what a beading class should be: beautifully presented technique, with a possible take-home outcome, for those who do not design for themselves.

In this case, when I looked at the class material, the techniques were square stitch and herringbone.  WOO HOO!  I have never done square stitch and only rarely used herringbone.  Something about the texture of the herringbone stitch seems rough to me, and although I sometimes think, "hmmm... herringbone is probably the right solution to this problem," I only rarely move past the sample stage with it. But maybe Diane would offer a new perspective or improve my technique with the stitch sufficiently to make it more usable for me.  Plus, Diane's class focused on a new bead from Miyuki, the two-holed Tila.  I signed up, thrilled at the idea of an introduction to a new bead, having a new stitch to play with, and a new piece of jewelry to wear by the end of the day.  I so rarely make things just for me, it seemed almost decadent!

When class began, Diane demonstrated square stitch and showed us a lovely collection of possible Tila bead projects and a good selection of Tila beads to choose from.  I loved a necklace project, made in the square stitch.  It required increasing and decreasing, so I set out first to make a sample doing that in a regular way, to confirm that it would not overwhelm me.  I realized after several increases and decreases (which I creatively improvised) that I was not really understanding the stitch, and at about the same time, Diane suggested we should perhaps all begin with a simple bracelet or straight sample.  Yes, mam! 

I started on a bracelet, and the comprehension of the stitch fell neatly into my mind and hands.  Because I tend to keep my head down and bead, rather than chatting, and because I have the smallest wrist I have ever measured in my lifetime of measurement-taking as a dressmaker, I finished a bracelet. The Tila beads are BIG, compared to my usual 11's and 15's so the speed of visible progress is a really fun change.  Diane had a selection of clasps from Claspgarten, a German company, and sold me a magically perfect slide clasp for my bracelet.

Later in the day, we worked with herringbone stitch and combined other beads with the Tilas.  I have not yet finished my herringbone project.  I am working on another piece that has been taking my full limited-beading-time-per-day at the moment, but I am feeling a little pull toward finishing the herringbone necklace today...  so we'll see what happens when I pick up my needle tonight.

In the mean time, Diane, thank you for a lovely and fruitful day!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Time to VOTE!

Well, Ok, elections are just around the corner, but I am talking about the Etsy Beadweavers October Challenge, "Autumn Falling of Leaves,"  another huge turnout for our team.  Please check out all the entries, and vote for your favorite by the 15th, when the poll closes.  You can see each piece up close and personal by using the links below the mosaic.
My own entry is #12, inspired by my neighbor's beautiful maple tree:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Organic Drusy Trinket

I picked up a few small, vibrantly coated quartz drusy cabochons at the Gem and Lapidary Workers Show a couple weekends ago.  Between humming "Deck the Halls" while I work on my solstice piece, and a frantic fall for my day job, Made for Movement, I played with one of them for a couple evenings evening last week.  Finally tonight, I got it listed in my etsy shop.
 I am apparently a sucker for metallic irridescence, since all the necessary beads for the piece were already in my stash. It's not an exactly calibrated shape, so I worked organically with the bezel, shaping it without precise geometric symmetry. A simple trinket, but sparkly and fun!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If At First You Don't Succeed...

I have tried and tried again, believe me.  I have five sets of photos for my challenge entry this month, and I think, I sincerely HOPE, I finally have the thing right.

I started my leaf just after the challenge was announced. I got it half finished, and set it aside for a while. I finally got back to it last weekend, and when it was finished I was really pleased with the result. BUT, what was it?

A brooch?

A pendant necklace? 

I tried several things, and liked some coral I had. But the bead caps weren't quite the right thing, plus the configuration was too formal for the organic leaf form.

Sunday I went the the Minneapolis Gem and Lapidary Workers Show, with the leaf in hand.  I found some more coral, and a new vendor for me,  had some splendid findings I fell for instantly.  They are naturally oxidized and fire torched copper!  I think the colors are spectaular.  I even did a little work with my pliers to make the bead caps fit my coral.  And somehow, the mismatched nature of these findings suggested an assymetrical treatment for the stringing, just the organic feeling I needed!

I finally got it strung and adjusted my listing, and then spent today looking at the piece and deciding I had the leaf upside down.  DUH. 

It should have been a clue to me that all the photos I liked displayed the leaf point down, but I had strung it point up on the necklace. 

In any case, I am FINALLY through editing and re-stringing... although, I am just not sure about those earrings...  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

New Daywear Pendants

I have had several nice jasper cabochons for a while, and in preparation for a holiday show jury I have finished three of them and have two others begun.  The jury closes Friday, so we'll see how many more I finish between now and then.  The first is a Rocky Butte Jasper round, which suggests a lovely little landscape, looking a bit Asian to me.   It has a delicate cluster of three bugle bead dangles, and an equally delicate bugle bead neckstrap and earrings.

The second is a long and beautiful teardrop shape.  I don't know the name of this particular Jasper,  I do love the teal in it, and that prompted me to string it with one of my favorite new Jaspers, Aqua Terra.  I used rondelles in the neckstrap and some nice drilled rectangles in the larger pair of earrings.  The browns and bronzy golds call to mind piles of fall leaves.

The third in the series is this Ocean Picture Jasper oval.  I love the multitude of golds and the wonderful spotted texture.  It reminds me of a Gustav Klimt painting.  All three feature lots of 24k gold delicas and seeds and seem elegant and subdued to me, although my treatment of this oval is a little sparkly, thanks to some Chinese crystal in the neck strap.  I've been making them all long, so they can be easily shortened to preferred lengths for buyers.

Thanks for taking a peek!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Don't Count Your Chickens...

Image from the Cafesjian Carousel, St. Paul, Minnesota
Sometimes, things happen that are almost too wonderful to be believed.  I have decided to take a "wait and see" approach on this one, but I am hoping that I will not have to pinch myself, and wake up shivering.

Last Wednesday morning, I got a phone call from a man who introduced himself as an "agent."  I was immediately suspicious, because on Etsy, that usually indicates a scammer.  Fortunately, I listened to what the guy had to say.  He represented a gentleman who wanted to buy my "January Dawn" necklace from the recent State Fair exhibit, and asked if it was for sale.  I had not planned to sell it immediately, but thought I would do so eventually.  He mentioned his buyer had galleries worldwide, and that the piece would be shown in them as part of the man's collection.  I said I would consider selling the piece, but that it would cost at least $1000, and asked whether this would be off-putting to the buyer.  The agent said the price would not be a problem and that he would be in touch with me.  I thought, "we'll see about that," but I did begin to think about a price. 
Although I had not kept track as I went along as I usually do, I had timed certain operations, and felt I could reasonably extrapolate time and materials, which is how I price my work.  I think many beadweavers just guess what they think a buyer might pay, but having made custom costumes for a living for 25 years, I take a more practical approach.  I decided 60-70 hours was the right time range, and that over $150 worth of materials were involved.  I got out my calculator and created a price, but I was not holding my breath.

That afternoon, about 30 minutes before the dentist appointment where work would begin on the new crown, (partially paid for my my state fair winnings) the agent called again, and this time he wanted me to talk to the buyer, "Gerry."  I think the agent had mentioned the buyers last name, but I did not remember it, so I asked. Being a kind gentleman, the buyer spelled his name, very slowly and carefully, GERARD CAFESJIAN.  The name rang a bell, but nothing specific popped into my head.  I talked with him and discovered he did indeed own a breathtaking, state-of-the-art gallery, Cafesjian Center for the Arts, in Armenia.  He is additionally responsible for the Gerard L. Cafesjina Pavilion at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art.  He also has another museum project in progress, the Armenian Genocide Museum of America  in Washington DC. 

He said he had seen "January Dawn" at the Minnesota State Fair, and had to own it for his collection, which contains glass by some of the foremost artists in the world. This was a puzzle for me. I could not imagine a world class art collector snacking on a corn dog and wandering into the Fine Arts building, but there is a connection (the bell that rang in my head) that explains how he came to be there. Mr. Carfesjian is an entrepreneur and philanthropist, and one of his first projects was the restoration and preservation of the historic carousel  from the fairgrounds in St. Paul, which now bears his name.

By this point, I was feeling overwhelmed and rather speechless, but I tried to keep up with the conversation.  He was pleased to find I did not make copies of my work, disappointed that I was not a full-time artist, and sad that many of the things he had seen in the gallery on my humble blog were already in other collections.  He liked the "Daisy Buchanan : Innocence in Decay" work in the ISGB show, which he also expressed interest in purchasing.

I went off to the dentist in a state of dumb-struck awe, and it did occur to me that perhaps the rest of the crown would now be paid for.  I am carefully not counting any chickens yet.  "January Dawn" has moved to another exhibit at the Textile Center of Minnesota Library, and can't be released until November.  But it was a most amazing day for me, and I am still a bit speechless.  The world is a huge and dazzling carousel, and one never knows who or what will be on the next pony that comes around.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I cannot remember an Etsy Beadweavers Challenge with so much participation, and particularly with so many elaborate and beautiful entries.  "Bollywood"  seems to have been a very inspirational theme.  Please visit our team blog, enjoy the wonderful beadwork, and vote for your favorite entry between the 9th and 15th of Spetember.  This is my entry, #7, and I have made a pair of earrings to go with it as well.  Take a peek!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Meet Gina Mars

I recently sold a necklace to a buyer whose name seemed familiar to me.  I googled her, and discovered to my delight that Gina Mars is a ceramic artist who specializes in gorgeous raku!    I asked if she would allow me to feature her in my blog and she kindly agreed, and told me her Raku work will be featured in the new book 500 Raku Pieces, scheduled for publication in January of 2011.  This really thrilled me, because three years ago, I got the Lark book, 500 Beaded Objects as a birthday gift, and it was what inspired me to start beading.  That provided a logical first question.

How did you begin making ceramic art?
I became a ceramic artist in college while studying to be a history teacher. I had to take an elective and decided ceramics could be fun and easy. My professor thought I was very good on the potter’s wheel and offered me a full scholarship for undergraduate and graduate work in teaching and ceramics. Because I came from a poor family, I could not afford any more schooling anyway, and the scholarship was a blessing. After finishing college, I continued to teach at the college level and at the high school level until I decided to have a family. A few years later, I opened Mars Pottery and have been in business for 24 years. All my work is created in my Huntington Station, NY studio that is fully equipped with everything I need.

What drew you to raku?
I enjoy raku because of the brilliant colors and quick firing technique. You can fire a raku kiln in 20 minutes, as opposed to 12 hours for a regular kiln. Each raku piece is glazed and then placed in a raku kiln. It heats up to 2000 degrees and then you go into the kiln with gloves and remove the piece. It is then placed into a pit with combustibles such as straw to create a fire. Then the pit is covered with a can to smother the piece. The pit can no longer get oxygen so the glaze interacts with the smoke and creates the colors. Then the piece is taken out and sprayed with water.

What inspires your work?
My latest inspiration comes from middle eastern architecture. The pieces have minaret like tops on them and some are covered in gold or copper leaf. I also enjoy adding sculptural elements to my work.

Do you participate in any ceramics or raku-specific organizations?
Once a year I attend the NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts) which is a major conference for ceramic artists all over the world. In 2011, it will be in Florida.

How and where do you market your work?
I conduct over 50 workshops all over the world each year and sell my work through my web site, galleries, and shows in the New York area. My work can be found as far away as New Zealand.

Have you ever seen a raku bead or cabochon?  I imagine such things could not be thrown, but would you ever consider giving that a try?
Of course I can make a raku bead. It's easy, maybe you have me thinking now!

That thought has me practically drooling!  Gina purchased the necklace below, and I think it fits nicely into her artistic aesthetic with both the color-shifting Aurora Borealis finish of the focal druzy, and contrasting rough and smooth textures.  I am so pleased she visited my shop and provided me with the opportunity to learn more about her breathtakingly beautiful raku, and to feature her work here in my blog.