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.


  1. So inspiring! You may not have done everything on your list, but you certainly accomplished a lot. Have a wonderful new year!

  2. Wow - you did accomplish a lot and you should be so proud of yourself! You done good this year and I am sure the next year will be even better! I can't wait until Jan. 7th for the sign up for the Bead Soup Party and that is on my calendar! Have a great New Year Lori!

  3. You've had amazing year! Many challenges and many accomplishments. Ready to sign up for the bead soup party!

  4. You're my hero, Lori! I am hoping that once we get Emma through high school I can focus more on the business of Joolz...I expect I'll have to pick your brain.

  5. congratulations lori - your year 'off' was very productive indeed... with benefits that are mere seeds at this point... who knows how high they will grow?!

  6. Wow Lori, you accomplished so much! I think I need to set more goals for myself. Maybe a new year's resolution?

  7. The best of intentions resonates with me and I think this for me will be an on going goal in which I may never get the mastery over but all the worth while to continue to attempt. I will always want to grow as an individual. But I would prefer it take place with in more than the
    Thanks for the visit

  8. It has been one wild ride. I am so glad that I got to tag along! I think that this year sounds like a great success, knowing that all great successes always have their share of ups and downs.

    Looking forward to 2011!
    Enjoy the day!

  9. You inspire me! You are so very talented and giving. Thank you. May 2011 be a wonderful year all the way around.

  10. Lori I do believe you are an inspiration to so many! The reflection on your past year shows that. I look forward to another year learning with you and about you.
    Happy 2011.

  11. Lori you are such an inspiration to so many, the past years reflection proves that. I look forward to 2011 to learn with you and about you. All the best!

  12. Beautiful and terrific post, Lori! Seems like your "year off" (if you want to call it that) was a truly growing experience. All the best in 2011. Looking forward to the Bead Soup Blog Party!!!!

  13. thanks for letting me tag along~& I can hardly wait for Bead Soup!!!

  14. Congratulations on a terrific year, Lori! It was so good to meet you in person this year, and I hope that 2011 affords us the chance to hang out again!

  15. taking the year off from craft shows seems to have agreed with you! I did craft shows way back when my 40 yr. old was very young and I know how much work they are and I didn't do nearly as many as you have done. Congrats on a year well worth it!

  16. What a great year! I am blogging, reading, learning, and growing because of my participation in your Spring Blog Soup - and for that I am eternally thankful! All the best in 2011, Elisabeth

  17. Goals, ah yes, I really need to start doing something about that! Thanks for the inspiration, we'll see how far it takes me! :) I really love the blue and aqua necklace with the ceramic pendant by Spirited Earth...gorgeous piece!

  18. I thought you were taking a year off! LOL Congratulations, Lori, on all of your accomplishments. They were a result of your hard work and generous nature of helping others. I'm fortunate to have met you. :-)

  19. If I only accomplish half of what you achieved in the last year I'd be very happy. May 2011 be a productive, happy and fulfilling one for you Lori.

  20. Wonderful post, thanks for taking me along for the ride. Here's to a wonderful 2011!
    I often struggle with my self-worth in beading and jewelry making. I am actually taking some time off from it right now to regroup and reorganize my head. I am looking forward to BeadSoup.
    Shannon C

  21. What a great review of your entire year of desires, accomplishments and dreams. Now you know what worked and what might not have and you can focus on this new year in a much more Lori way. Happy New 2011...

  22. Congratulations on meeting your goal! I can't wait to read through your archives as I just found your blog this year and though I've tried in the past to do the same, I've failed. I hope to glean from you as I try once again in 2011, to study, learn, and grow as an artist.

  23. What a fantastic round up. I really appreciate the honesty of expectation versus realization. All the attempted classes...the ideas that worked.... the ones that didn't. Each life has it's own plan, try as we may to dictate the path it rarely works out the way we think it will. You being open to the the twists/turns and not trying to live/die by a "plan" really opened you up to an fantastic 2010. Can't wait to see that 2011 holds at Pretty Little Things.


  24. This has been a huge year for you -- lots of good things. I can't wait to see what 2011 brings you.

  25. Oh my, how time flies. Good for you - for gifting yourself with this year to explore new things. Even if you didn't do all you wanted - you succeeded in some wonderful projects, you have learned new skills and laid the seeds for further growth. Because, really, we never stop learning, as long as we are open for it.
    Wishing you a wonderful new year - may it be full of new skills, inspiration and happiness.

  26. I am so thankful for getting to know you a little this year as well! A post like this one really puts into perspective how many small steps can add up to a lot of exciting changes. :)

    I hope 2011 brings you many new opportunities and that 2010 has helped you build some wonderful stepping stones!

  27. You did so much! What a whirl wind : ) - Wishing you everything you want in the New Year! XOXOXOXO Patty

  28. Beautiful creations! Congrats and Happy New Year!


  29. What a great stroll throughout the past year! I'm so glad you got to explore both inside and outside of yourself... challenging yourself and reaching new heights! That's what living is truly about!

    Here's to a wonderfully blessed 2011!

  30. Congrat's to you for a year well spent! I am so sure there is much more to come!

  31. Lori it sounds like the year was still a very productive one in which you spent time finding your way with new ideas. I hope that continues for you in 2011 and that we get to spend time together again in a class somewhere, Art and Soul, beadfest or Artbliss maybe?

  32. Oh Lori, what an inspiring blog. You truly are a most generious soul. It is good to set goals and pray you accomplish at least some of them. You did very well in deed. You incourage me so much. Be Blessed

  33. Lori
    I am so incredibly proud of you and all of your MANY achievements this year. It has been a learning experience for me -not to mention fun- to share with you many of these ups and downs along the way. Looking forward to an amazing 2011 - I know you have so many amazing adventures ahead!!!

  34. You accomplished so much, Lori -- what a year! You really inspire me!

  35. You have had a wonderful year and have been a wonderful friend & inspiration. Congrats on the new book!

  36. Thank you for commenting on my blog Lori. I think I am about a year behind you. It is good to know someone else has gone through/is going through a similar process. I think I will be referring to your blogs as I go. You just may find me in the bead soup mix as well. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  37. Thanks for sharing your year of growth and exploration. I can't wait to read your book when it is published. The metal work that you learnt is really sculptural and would also suit larger metal pieces.

  38. Looks like your year off paid off? You seemed to have learned so much that will only make you better at what you do! I really love those enamel beads, and the metals, and ... everything, actually. Looking forward to seeing what you will have this year!

  39. I think it has been almost a year since I found you. How fortunate I am that that happened. I am so proud of you! A year well spent. So many unbelieveable efforts to share your passion with others and support their endeavors too! You are an amazing person Lori willing to risk not only sharing your passion but your struggles and very heart. I truly appreciate all you have done by being so open and loving and persistent! I wish for you overwhelming, unexpected joy and benefits from your year's work. You truely deserve that. I am sure the universe would agree. xxooxx

  40. Hi there !!!!
    Please don't delete this blog, I just found it and would love to read it from the beginning!
    I too am a passionate 'artist' who loves everthing from folk art, primitive, vintage, clothing and especially photography.
    I'd love to back-track over your journey!
    Pop by sometime!
    ( )

  41. So lovely blog & work!

  42. I am inspired. You have accomplished so much in one year. My job ends in July and I plan to take 6 months off for Creativity. I only hope I can create 1 tiny percent of what you have. Thank you for sharing!

  43. I simply want to tell you that I am all new to blogging and honestly loved this web page. Very likely I’m going to bookmark your blog post . You definitely have remarkable stories. Thanks a bunch for sharing your web page.


Thanks so much for commenting!