About ten years ago I decided to try my hand at doing art shows. The first few years were bumpy, I had to rethink everything I was doing in my second year - from the ground up.I’ve been accepted into a lot of real dud shows, dud for me. Everyone’s worst show is also someone else’s best show ever. I’ve also learned how to make much better choices for myself and my work when choosing new shows for the upcoming season.
Turns out I like the Jekyll and Hyde aspect of the year when doing art shows - it sounds crazy and it is!
I don’t have a partner. I need to earn every single dime it takes to support me, my small zoo, and my collection of 100 big houseplants that live with me.
I am part of an ecosystem that I created when I purchased my 100-year-old Craftsman-style home a few years ago. I made a commitment to each and every living thing I’ve invited to live under my roof and under my care that I would do my best to care for all of them as well as I’m able. It can be a lot.
The point is, I live alone, and have to earn every single dime needed to live - for as long as I’m going to live. I’ve been self-employed for over 35 years and was a single mom to two amazing children the entire time. Both children are grown and have wonderful partners, and good jobs. They/we experienced what it was like to be hovering on the edge of poverty their entire young lives. They also witnessed how hard I worked at my business and vowed to never be self-employed. We didn’t have a lot of money, but our quality of life was excellent. I was never able to put much money away for my eventual retirement - I never honestly had time to stop and think about it. My game plan from here forward is to crank things into a higher gear and earn as much as possible over the next few years so I might possibly have enough to slow down at some point in the misty, distant future.
The articles and charts made about “How to Live Comfortably on Your Retirement Savings,” or ...”your investments,” or “your 401K,” are for an entirely different income tax bracket of folks. People who were not single moms, working as a freelance illustrator and now supplementing their income by doing art shows every summer.
I just didn’t realize my “slowing down” time was so far off still. It was disheartening to learn initially - I’m working with a Wealth Manager at my Credit Union about what to do to have enough money to retire someday or slow down. I’ll never stop making art.
I’m fortunate in that I have a lot of control over what I do to earn money. Whether I make the right choices all the time to earn more money, I don't always get it right. There are many factors outside my control regarding how much money I can earn at any given time of year.
I’m conscious of doing my best each and every time I hand-make another piece of jewelry. Each piece must be high quality, constructed to last a long time, and contain many tiny beautiful objects. Many of the beautiful beads in my cool collection are quite old and have stories all their own. To customers or lookers, anyone who stops into my booth, I’ll tell the origin story of a particular bead. It’s really fun. Often, lively back-and-forth conversation ensues, leaving everyone feeling a little brighter. I’ve gotten to be a good judge of when and more importantly, when not to engage.
The parts of the equation I can control are the excellent products I sell, thought, research, and thinking. The most important of all - listening carefully to my clients, whether they be Freelance Illustration clients, or folks visiting my booth at an art show.
I love hunting for, making, and selling my bracelets, every part of the process. Even all the extreme physical work of loading my car, driving a few hundred miles sometimes, schlepping everything, and being thoughtful and kind in many extreme weather situations. When I travel for art shows, I must hire someone to care for my small zoo every day while I’m away. I can be gone overnight without anyone coming in to feed my critters, but more than one night and all my guys need someone. I have the most wonderful woman who cares for my animals. She’s an animal whisperer.
Things are slowing down for the season. Thank the Goddess.
I just returned from seven days driving in northwestern Mexico and So Cal with my grown son. It was wonderful and also pretty intense at times. I am an intentionally grateful and thankful person. I kept a thoughtfulness journal for a long time and it created a beautiful practice that has stayed with me all these tough, long years since. I am daily thankful and grateful for the people, animals, plants, and things in my life. My job is to take care of me and them.
That’s the agreement.
The Slowdown has allowed me to leisurely dig through my small, but dense bead collection. I have some magnificent semi-precious stones that I bought early on - before I knew all the essential elements that are necessary for the parts that make up my bracelets.
I never was able to use many of the semi-precious stones in my bracelets, so I just tucked them away.
Now I’ve learned a few things about the type of bracelets and simple jewelry I make. Art fairs have slowed down for the season - yaHOO. It’s been a marathon, it seems to have paid off. Ideas and schemes on how to add selling my original 2-D art to earn a portion of my income are beginning to take root. In order to make that possibly happen, I’ve needed to be mindful and intentional about it. I quickly realized selling my 2-D art is more of a long-term goal that is going to take some work.
But for now, time to work these beautiful semi-precious stones into jewelry.
We all know that when we make a purchase from an artist, artisan, craftsperson, and or maker that we are supporting a real person and their family. There are lots of opportunities to shop local and support real people and real families.
Art of the Land is the major annual fundraiser of The Land Conservancy, a beloved, hardworking local conservation organization that buys and protects land throughout McHenry County. One third of all sales will go to TLC to help the organization continue doing what they do so well.
My daughter Willow and I dropped off five pieces of my 2-D art at the beautiful Starline Gallery in Harvard, Il the other day. The drop-off was surprisingly social - everyone was masked. We got a sneak peek of some of the art that will grace the walls of the gallery this weekend. It was exciting, the art we saw AND the energy in the air.
We are all ready for a night out!
Pick out your favorite goin'-to-the art-gallery-opening clothes, make a date with your partner, friends, and or family and join us, this Friday and or Saturday evening. We can't wait to see you!
It’s been ten years since I began making and selling hand-beaded leather wrap bracelets. I never intended to sell bracelets when I began making these ten years ago, I just needed a little therapy.
A dear friend suggested I look at leather wrap bracelets many years ago. I looked them up, they were hand-beaded, beautiful, soft, and making quite a stir. I was hooked.
I played with beads as a young girl while spending summers at my grandmother’s house in a microscopic town in central farmland, Illinois. At some point in my teens, I was given a small beading loom. I taught myself how to use it and loved it.
Fast forward 30+ years and I really need something completely different to do with my brain. I’d been single parenting for 25 years at that point and had been performing fairly well as Wonder Woman running my own freelance Illustration business - and supporting myself and my two children for years. I studied the beautiful wrap bracelets I had fallen hopelessly in love with and figured out how to make them. Some of my childhood bead collection came back out into the light of day. Making these bracelets really was a soothing relaxing escape. A few friends saw my initial efforts at bracelet making and really liked them. Several even suggested I consider selling them.
That had not been my intention at all when I began. It was all about therapy and a break from what I spent so much of my time doing, running my business, and single parenting.
Ten years later I would not be making and selling my hand-beaded leather wrap bracelets without all of your support. I am so grateful. Thank you.
Lucite is an acrylic resin created by DuPont in 1937. Its hey day was during the 40s and 50s. Initially it was created as a replacement for glass windows, but was also marketed to jewelers who took full advantage of it affordability and its shimmery beauty.
I've always taken great pride in only working with "real" materials, no plastic or fakes stones. I've had a small hand full of these beads, I knew they were lab made, but didn't know anything beyond the fact that they were some sort of plastic material. I've hesitated to use them in my work...but now that I understand what they are, it changes everything. I've been wearing earrings I made from some white round vintage moonglow lucite beads for about a month. People often comment on them. I have grown to really like them, but was sheepish about falling for some "plastic" beads, but that was before I knew their provenance. Get a pair of earrings for yourself at my next art show. These are guaranteed to go fast. As the very sweet older gentleman told me where I purchased my first pair of high heels, "May they bring you much happiness."
OMG, I felt giddy like a drunken sailor this morning as I booked room after room after room for upcoming art shows. Wait, I think I am a drunken sailor! Come see me in Sturgeon Bay, May 29th & 30th and you can reach your own conclusion - I'll introduce you to my new friends, we'll show you our matching tattoos.
Just popped open an email accepting me into the Mt. Horeb Art Fair over the weekend of July 17 - 18. I've made no attempt to hide how excited I am each and every time I'm accepted into an art fair. Being accepting into Mt. Horeb is no exception. I've never done the show there before, yet I know the town is beloved by it's residents and all the folks who make annual pilgrimages there to see the gnomes that are ubiquitous. ET, gnome home!
OMG, I can't hardly wait to pack up all my bracelets I've been weaving for...13 months(?), load up my little Honda, turn up t my favorite driving music, and point us to the ever magical Door County, WI. My first show of 2021 of beaded wrap bracelets will be in Sturgeon Bay, WI at the beautiful, downtown venue of Martin Park over Memorial Day weekend. Event hours are 10am-5pm on Saturday, May 29 and 10am-4pm on Sunday, May 30. Make your plans NOW. I miss you.
Twelve plus months of hanging out at home, alone. Wait I'm not alone, three very large cats are roaming around, a large flock of peepers and three crazy singing canaries are here with me. So, as the saying goes, you're not really talking to yourself OR drinking alone if your cats are home, right? I've put the wealth of ALL this time to good use. One of the surprisingly fun things I've accomplished was to through and organize my bead collection. I have SO many lovely beads I've collected over the years. Been making some great new wrap bracelets with beads I had forgotten I had. You, my friends, will be the beneficiaries of my cleaning and organizing. Can't wait to see you this summer. Be sure to check out my show schedule here.
Vintage crystal contains lead - it's what makes it shine in a way that is different from crystal produced today. Red vintage crystal contains GOLD. Gold was used in red glass produced for stained glass windows, and for red crystal production. I don't often come across vintage red crystal, but when I do, it's time to rejoice. When the sun shines it's time to take photos.
It's been a while since I picked out beads and a beautiful button to weave a new bracelet. Here it is. Number 1 of 2021.
The button was rescued from a truly horrible sweater - I have seven more! The larger smokey crystals remind me of the twilight of deep winter. The smaller black glass beads are slightly irregular and have an iridescent sheen. There are small gun metals round beads along with beautiful denim blue opaque crystals that punctuate the length of this generous double wrap.
It could be yours! All you need to do is ask. : )
I've completely given into my lifelong love of beads, stones, making stuff and stories, not particularly in that order.