Monday, December 27, 2010

The Year-End Wrap Up

It's that time -- the year-end wrap of An Artist's Year Off.  Time to see what goals I accomplished, what went by the wayside, and what unexpected things happened.

(This will be a long post, so grab a drink and a snack and away we'll go!)

(If you've just stumbled upon this blog, I began with this post.  If you want to read in order, go to the right side bar and click the months and work backwards.  I wish there was a way to take this blog the other way around, but alas.)

Here's what I said in my first post:

Starting January 1st, 2010, I begin a new adventure.

After five years of 15-20 craft shows a year, I am tired. 
I've cut back my showings drastically, and have decided that this is my year to explore.

My year to hone my skills.

My year to learn new things.

I'm nervous, and apprehensive, and more than a little scared.

But it's now or never!

Reading that, it seems to me I was absolutely desperate for a change.  The "now or never" part just smacks of "get me out of this rut!".  I felt like all I did was make the same thing, the same style, over and over and over again, and I felt stagnant.  I wanted to expand without losing my customers, and I wanted to learn new skills that would enable me to become more memorable.

typical "me" style

I also wanted to stretch my wings and learn new skills, including something I'd never tried before -- mixed media art.  Well, I did learn new skills, which I'll touch on later, but I totally failed when it came to learning mixed media and journaling.  I'd signed up for Art and Soul in Hampton, VA, but had to cancel at the last minute due to migraines.  Migraines were a common overture throughout this year, getting in the way of a lot of creative endeavors, but I learned to work around them and to just let some things go.

mixed media art by Kerry Bogert that I own

I did find organizing my day to be helpful, but this was a hit-or-miss project.  I started the year with the best of intentions, but in a couple of months, the day planner got buried under piles of paperwork and I forgot about it.  Around September, when life started getting hectic again, I chucked the old day planner and bought a perpetual calender at Paper Source.  This way, I'm not stressed by missing weeks or even months of time, but fill in each page with the dates and go on from there.

I did take some classes.  I learned how to torch-enamel beads with Barbara Lewis...

and I learned how to rivet, dap, and texture metal with Tracy Stanley.

I practiced in my lampwork studio, but didn't get past making frit beads because our house contractors took over my studio to hook up their generators, and then my lampwork class at BeadFest got canceled at the last minute, and by then, it was crunch time for making jewelry for fall shows.  But I was happy with my progression, even managing to sell some spacer sets.

spacers I made with CiM glass
bracelet I made with my beads

There were, of course, some stumbles.   I picked up books along the way, planning on trying new skills, like polymer clay and metalsmithing,  and never got around to it.  I signed up for Stephanie Lee's "Homesteader's Metalsmithing" eCourse but due to a FAR more intensive selling season than I expected, only made it to one class.  I never got around to trying more intricate wire work or the tutorials I purchased.  I DID try Zentangles -- once.  The kit sits on my desk, unopened since that one attempt.

I wrote a free eCourse on my personal thoughts about blogging.  I made the decision to put my son into private school, which due to the expense, caused me to totally re-evaluate how I run my business, from cash flow to marketing.  Taking a look at my business plan actually wasn't a bad idea, as I hadn't visited it in a while.

photo by Cindy Wimmer, at one of my shows

In the Huge News department, I launched a brand new web site, which totally rebranded me from eye-burning stripes to whimsical Chinese lanterns.  New fonts, new layout, new style.  

Along with the new web site came the need to learn a new style of photography.  I packed up my light tent and moved to taking natural light pictures and went from using (for the most part) stark white backgrounds to using photo props.  This takes a lot longer because I have a limited amount of time when the sun cooperates with me, not to mention I don't always know what I'm doing with the camera, but when the photos work out, they work out.

So far, my customers have liked the new site and I've gotten minor glitches fixed pretty quickly.  Money well spent.

Also in the Huge News department was the creation of my personal baby, the Bead Soup Blog Party.  Held three times this year, it's a blog hop designed to help jewelry designers work outside their normal comfort zones, introduce each other to new blogs, and create a sense of camaraderie.  I was overwhelmed with the response, and the first party was such a success the BSBP has become a standing hop.  The next one has sign-ups in January -- I hope you'll join!  The information can be found by clicking here.

To help me continue to work outside the box, I started the Cup of Bead Soup.  That's a monthly series that features one bead artist who sends me beads, sight unseen, and I spend the month designing with them.  Through this, I not only get to push myself, but promote an awesome bead maker.  I've really grown through the Cup of Bead Soup, and I'm looking forward to next year's editions.

polymer clay beads by Floridity, lampwork by me, copper clasp by me

ceramic pendant by Spirited Earth

And the Ultimate Big News -- I'm writing a beading book.  I'm telling you, it still hasn't sunk in.  The book is due out around October 2012, which seems like forever, but the publishing world just works that way.  Trust me, it'll be worth the wait!

the beading book section of Barnes and Noble

All in all, it's been a good year.  No, I didn't accomplish all I set out to do -- but I'm incredibly happy with what I DID accomplish.  Sometimes the best plan is to have no plan ... or at least, be willing to bend to the whims of chance and change.  I worked around a lot of physical pain, a lot of worry about my own self-worth in the beading community, and came out feeling stronger.  I've made the most amazing blog friends along the way, built my customer base, and strengthened my family.  

Trees near our house.
Reach up, you never know how high you'll go.

Yes, this year off from all the stresses of craft show after craft show after craft show helped me grow, often in ways I hadn't planned or didn't expect.  I'm looking forward to 2011, and I hope you'll join me at my main blog, Pretty Things, to join me in my coming adventures.