Happy New Year!  2009 was a good year for my jewelry business and I am looking forward to a wonderful 2010.  Starting a fresh new year all sparkly and clean is why I selected these earrings for this post.  They have plenty of sparkle going on.

Reflecting on 2009, these are some milestones:

  • I studied at Penland School of Craft for two weeks taking a metals class under instructor Bob Ebendorf and his assistant Marlene True.  What I learned in the class enriched my skills and helped me break some boundaries in my jewelry.
  • My blog turned one years old.  Now in the second year of blogging, I think/hope I have hit my stride and found my voice.
  • I showed my jewelry at Hampton Bay Days and enjoyed and learned from interacting with the public.
  • I’ve enjoyed Tweeting about jewelry and participating in the Twitter community and have over 600 followers.
  • I was fortunate enough to be able to giveaway four books and one gift card to blog readers.  Thank you Lark Books and Artbeads.com.
  • I found my path with social networks.  I moved away from scant participation in too many to solid participation in one – The Indie Business Network.  As a result, my time in the one social network is much more meaningful and I’ve made friends there.
  • I held my first-ever Cyber Monday online jewelry party.

So many other things happened, these are just a few highlights.  Looking ahead, these are some goals and plans I have.

  • I definitely want to continue blogging, enjoy writing, and enjoy interacting with readers.
  • I’d like to do 2-3 art/craft shows.
  • I have signed up for a class with Susan Lenart Kazmer and am so excited.
  • I’m also taking an enameling 101 class.  It’s only one day so I know it won’t be but so in-depth, but I’ve wanted to study enameling for so long and this was all I could get this year.  I can’t wait.
  • I’m building a mailing list and my online newsletter will be published on a regular basis.
  • I will get one of those gadgets that lets you take credit cards at craft shows.
  • I am in the process of designing and will introduce my first collection of 12-15 cohesive gallery pieces.
  • I will continue my journey of learning to work with metal, becoming more and more skilled.

I guess I need to get started and I hope you reach your goals and dreams in this shiny new year.

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Charlene

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Shell Donut with Red AdventurineI try to think ahead a few months when planning the jewelry I will be working on (in a general sense) and ordering beads and other components.  For the remainder of this year, I have a schedule I adhere to (mostly) when it comes to restocking the stores that carry my jewelry.  I am also planning one show this fall thus far – Hampton’s Bay Days – a large festival in Hampton, VA in September.  I also start thinking about fall and the holidays, planning for adequate levels of inventory and any trunk shows or other events I might participate in.

I have also begun to incorporate some of the contests and calls for entries that tend to occur annually as I have a goal of entering more of these events as a way to continue growing as an artist.  As artisans and craftspeople, we have to don many hats.  I know I prefer keeping the creative hat on, but sometimes the business and planning hats are necessary to keep my jewelry business running smoothly.  I’ll get back to the fun stuff soon enough.

JenniferNecklace1I’m still loving setting found bits of glass, pottery, and other items in metal and then making them into jewelry.  I have a small boxfull, collected at a time when I knew the pieces had possibilities and saving them for a time when I had the skill level to use them.  Now is that time and I am just loving it.

I don’t know what this little bit of pottery used to be – maybe a saucer or dinner plate?  It doesn’t have the curvature a cup or bowl would have.  How many times have I picked it up and felt its smoothness created by sea and sand?  I’m proud to have used it and hope I honored it by setting it in sterling silver and arranging beads in colors and shapes that echo its quiet beauty.

These are my top five tips for artists, artisans, and craftspersons.

Do what you love.  If you love it, you will pursue it in a way that connects with your inner spirit.  If you are passionate about it, people will feel the energy you put into it and will respond.  If you love it, you will move beyond the rejection letters, horrible craft shows, and moments of feeling invisible.

Challenge yourself.  To grow, experiment, stretch.  Take classes, read books, make crazy art you think no one will understand.  Learn from those who have mastered your craft.  Learn from life.  Take it all in – the color of sky, the touch of breeze on your skin, a well turned phrase, graffiti – and express it.

Give freely.  Have an open heart and be glad to share what you know with others.  Contribute to the body of knowledge in your area of expertise.  Join guilds,  clubs, or societies in your medium and participate.  The universe rewards the cheerful and generous giver.

Understand pricing.  The business side of art should not be ignored.  Know what you put into each piece.  Value yourself and your unique contribution.  Take time to understand pricing structures and models and never sell yourself short.  Be fair.

Care – really care – about the customer.  Treat every customer, really everyone you come into contact with, the way you would like to be treated.  Be polite, prompt, and honest in your communications.  Bend over backwards to handle problems.  Have that little extra polish when it comes to packaging, business cards, and other materials.

I just got back from Trader Joe’s and as I was leaving, I was struck by the diversity of people there – shopping, walking in, heading out.  They were beautiful –  different ages, sizes, ethnicities, shapes.  Their hair and clothing – all so different.  It was a tiny and amazing moment.  One that all of those people – going about their errands – probably never knew they were a part of.

I never like filling out forms that have boxes for race.  Not that I am not proud of mine.  Rather, it bothers me that someone needs to know so badly that I cannot register for, apply for, participate in the whatever, without telling.  There just should be an “all of the above” choice.  I would choose it everytime to simply say that I am human.

These items have been sitting in a bag for almost a year now.  Sitting and waiting to be made into a fabulous necklace for yours truly.  At times, I can neglect myself when it comes to jewelry.  There are so many women walking around with awesome jewelry I made,  I should be one of them, right?  I promised myself I should do better.  I promised myself in 2008 I would make one item a month for me.  Well…here it is September and I’ve done two – one in January and one in April.  So, I commit to finishing this necklace in September – for me.

Self portrait in wire

Self portrait in wire

You are where you are in life.  Things have happened, more than can be covered.  And so you just start.  Somewhere.  Like jumping into the pool when you know the water is a little cool.

 

Of course a huge amount of procrastination occurred.  I thought about blogging in March or April and am just now sitting and writing.  Why?  The biggest reason is because I needed to find a voice and a place to write from that was personal to me and yet I would feel comfortable with it being online.

 

I design and make jewelry.  It has been my passion for years and I do it because I need to do it, love to do it.  If I never sold another piece, I would keep making it and either stockpile it or have really well accessorized friends and family.  I will write about my life and journey as a jewelry artist.