Creativity

Hi everyone, I know I haven’t been on for a while.   Sometimes life gets in the way.  I’ve been teaching a lot, and have traveled to Tucson , AZ and Austin, TX these last few weeks, and all this traveling has given me a lot of time to think.

After the Gelattos and Sunset evening with my sister, good friend and student, Kathleen Krucoff, I started thinking of where our creativity comes from.  I came up with several “rules” (or suggestions) to follow if you feel uncreative, or have “hit a wall”.  Sometimes just sitting down and thinking where you are going will help. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed, sometimes you feel totally uninspired.  Either way, look where you are going.

I will write these “rules” as a serial over a couple of weeks.  As always please feel free to comment.

1. You will be given what you want, but you must know exactly what it is you want.

This is nothing new.  It’s the old proverbial “Be careful what you ask for, you may get it.”  Well, you will get what you ask for, that’s why I have learned that you must word your desires carefully.

Do you want to make jewelry for just yourself, your friends, or a gallery?  Do you wish to teach, to own a shop or to have a nationally recognized name in jewelry?  Where are you going with your art, whatever the medium?    The decision is yours.  Only yours.  Think this through.

A friend wants to be a “big name” in jewelry. She only has a dream, no plan.  She submitted a piece for acceptance into a holiday gift catalog.  There will be 600,000 catalogs sent all over the U.S.   The piece was accepted. She is thrilled.  Now what?  What if it gets 400 orders?  What if she only gets two and she has 200 pieces made?   Give your decision a lot of thought.  Can you fill the orders?   How long before they pay?  What percentage will the company take? Don’t set yourself up for surprises.  Plot out a map of where you want to be in six months, in a year.  Make goals, both long term and short term.  Write them down. Review these goals every few months, and if you feel you are off track, it’s not too late to correct.

As a logical part of being an artist, you need a good consignment contract.  Most galleries work on consignment.  I had a really long one, too long, in fact.   Everything was covered, especially  bankruptcy/closure by the gallery.   The Society of North American Goldsmiths (SNAG) has a great contract.  Look at (bear with me here, it’s worth it) http://www.snagmetalsmith.org/.docs/pg/10025   (whew!) for a really organized consignment contract, look at the contracts section and then select either the PDF or Word version of Guide to a Model Consignment Contract.   If y0u scroll down to the end of the document, the actual contract is there, following a detailed description of what everything means.   Edit it to fit your circumstances.   It will help you set your goals and organize your thoughts.

While speaking of goals and dreams, I grew up in a household where Lapidary Journal and National Geographic were the magazines to which we subscribed.  I became an archaeologist and a jewelry designer.  Never doubt the power of the printed word.  But I digress. As a teenager, I laid under the covers at night with a flashlight, reading exciting stories, long past bedtime. My dream was that one day I would be in one of those magazines.   This month, I am the cover artist with one of my designs for Chinese Writing Stone, one of of my favorite stones.

ja-november09

Here’s a shot of the cover.  I also have an article about pliers and the step-by-step on how to make the cover piece.  I was inspired by the Chinese chrysanthemums and fireworks of the Beijing Olympics.  Stop in your local book store and please pickup a copy  If y0u like jewelry arts, it’s full of cool tool tips.  I will be the cover artist for the December issue, also.  It’s a brand new look with a brand new art director.  I was really  thrilled that he liked my red jasper piece enough to choose it for the cover. (Remind me to send him Holiday cookies!) I am  so honored to be writing for Lapidary Journal, now for the last 2 years. It’s part of my dream come true.

So think about the direction your art is going. Visualize where you want it to be.  Think of how specific you word your goals.  Plan, write and organize,  and it will come true.

Sweet, successful dreams.

Lexi

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Welcome to My World

Hello and welcome to my jewelry, life and teaching blog.  This is a new experience for me.  Being an old (well, maybe not that old)  professor and field archaeologist, I am used to writing out everything long hand.  On a yellow tablet. So I would like to thank my son, Jim, for bringing me into the 21st century by giving me my first iPod, which turned me onto Apple computers.  From that first gift, the rest, as they say, is history.  My loving husband, Mark, is a huge “Applelope”, and my technical advisor.  But one of my best friends, student, and sister, Kathleen Krucoff is the real reason I’m here posting this.  Without her patience and guidance I would still be writing on a yellow tablet.

This blog is named The Torch because that’s my “mafia” name, bestowed upon me by CoMA (Colorado Metalsmithing Assoc) posse member, and close friend,  Julie Jerman-Melka, when my first article on setting up your torch for jewelry was published for Jewelry Artist magazine.  For someone who started out scared to light a torch, my life has taken on new meaning after learning that “A Day Without Soldering is like a Day Without Sunshine”.  That would be a great C/W song title, or bumper sticker.  So here we go……

I have just returned from participating in the Copper Country Art Festival in Copper Mountain, Colorado.   My good friend, Pat Pocius, from South Park Pottery and Back Room Beads in Fairplay, CO,  and I had done that show together back in the 90’s, when there were over 400 vendors,  accompanied by fabulous music festival,  to boot.  It’s was quite a bit smaller this year, with only about 20 vendors, but the music was still good.  The people still flocked to hear Michael Michael Murphy and America, among others,  and I sold a number of pieces.  This was only the second show I’ve done since 1999.  Because of Mark’s job, we have lived in Chile for a number of years, and then in Bethlehem, PA for 3 years.   Though I participated in gallery shows through Pennsylvania Society of Goldsmiths, which I was honored to be their President,  I had not done a show on my own.  Truthfully, it was fun, but a lot of hard work.  The stress of getting ready for the show, producing new pieces and wondering if the public will like them, packing all your “stuff”, setting up, standing in 54 degree weather all day, and then repacking and coming home  and unpacking is an ordeal.  No, it’s a real pain.  BUT, do you get many benefits from doing a show.

1. You get the public’s immediate response to your work, both good and bad. Like I found that putting a ball chain on my pieces was not something the public liked.  This feed back is invaluable.

2.  You get new ideas from people who stop to visit with you.  “Have you thought about putting this with that….?”

3.  Networking with other artists is tremendous opportunity to learn.. I found out from water color artist, Todd Winters, about two shows back in Texas.  They are in the town where I grew up, and he says they are great. I’ll try those next year.  It would be fun to re-connect wth old friends.

4.  Which is another reason to do shows, I reconnected with a good customer from the shows in the 90’s.  It was good to be back in touch, and I’ll put her on my email list for future shows.

5.  Even though Sundays high was only 54 degrees, it felt good to be in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. It was a glorious week-end.

6.  There is no commission to galleries.  You do all the work, you get all the money.  Truthfully, the jury is still out on this one.  I have to figure out if 50% to a gallery is worth all the fore-mentioned stresses.

7.  Mark and I spent a whole week end together, no TV, no couch “potato-ing”, just sharing the experiences of good music, making memories, and meeting new people, some who will become repeat customers, I’m sure, and some will just pass through our lives, but they left our lives enriched.

So, take the plunge. Try out a show in your area.  It forces you to create new pieces within a time frame.  And one thing I have learned, “Creativity begats creativity.”  If you’re not busy making new things, you don’t grow.

So now, I’m off the the studio to make a few cuff bracelets for this week-ends Castle Rock Art Festival.  I’ll be on the right side near the entry.  Hope to see you there.

Please feel free use this blog to ask questions regarding jewelry making, shows, etc.  Questions regarding the meaning of life will have to be forwarded on, since I have a few answers, but maybe not what you are looking for.  Until then,  may all your bezels fit.

Hugs,

Lexi