These 'Retro' beads have an apt name. Not only are the colours and designs quite groovy in a retro sense, they also made me go back in time. Not in a time travel kind of way but in a revisiting-beads-gone-by manner.
I've been stressing about my beadmaking lately. A lot. I've had tears, tantrums, strops, moods and at one point - a very low point - I even thought about giving up and packing the lampwork in.
You see, it's tricky being a one-woman business. I don't see anybody, I don't really get face-to-face feedback about my work and sometimes it's very hard to keep myself motivated. Of course, those things are my choice. I'm a bit of a hermit, really. I've always liked my own company and even when I was at school and the teacher would tell us to work in pairs I would always ask if I could work on my own. I think it's the perfectionist streak in me, and possibly a little bit of a control freak too. I could get feedback about my work but I don't do fairs or shows or forums but when it comes down to it, I just don't want to do those things.
This past week has been hard. We're in the midst of this 'credit crunch' (hate that flipping phrase) and I'm aware that people don't have the money to spend on beads like they did a couple of years ago. That made me think 'Hmmm. Should I be making cheaper-to-buy beads?' and I tried that. They sold and everything but to be honest, I hated making them because they weren't the beads that I wanted to be making. I hit on a good idea with the Cupcake beads and I sold over four hundred of those in three months. Excellent and everything but the bottom line was I was breaking my own rule and was, in effect, taking commissions and special orders. It wasn't until I'd finished making them that I realised what a massive amount of pressure I'd put myself under.
I was on the phone to Chris the other night, moaning about beads and how I wanted to give them up and get a 'proper' job and he gave me an excellent piece of advice. (He's good at that - I don't know what I'd do without him!) Chris told me that this weekend I should 'make beads for fun'. I did that on Saturday morning and came up with the Monochrome beads from the last post. Although I felt ten times better while making them I knew that my relationship with lampwork was still on the rocks.
Then last night, I took my knitting upstairs to get a few rows worked before I went to sleep. I'm working on a complex lace pattern at the moment and I need peace and quiet (no television to distract my eyes) or I muck it up. (If I have to rip back any more stitches I swear I will just throw the project in the bin!) So I snuggled down with my knitting and put my iPod on. I recently discovered Brenda Dayne's 'Cast On' podcast and it is amazing - knitting stuff, cool tunes and Radio 4 type articles all rolled into one. Last night I was listening to Episode 72 and one part of it really hit home. Brenda was saying how she almost gave up podcasting at the end of last year because she wasn't really enjoying it anymore. She said so many things that struck chords with me. Brenda was talking about feedback and comments that people left on her blog about her podcast and how most of the comments were great, positive and really lovely. But it was the very few negative comments that really stuck in her head. She also said that she found that she was making the podcast more for her audience than she was for herself. She'd fallen into the trap of giving people what she thought they wanted as opposed to what she wanted to give them.
And I stopped knitting and I thought 'I've done the exact same thing.'
People send me the loveliest emails about my work. All you fab blog readers leave me excellent comments. And I love that. But I realised that about two years ago I let one person's 'constructive criticism' about my work really get to me. Those beads up there at the top of the post are my most favourite type of beads to make. They relax me. Each one takes me almost half an hour to complete but I get totally absorbed in the whole process of making them. It's the rhythmic, equal placing of the dots, the smooth application of the stringer, the slow melting-in of the dots. I love the whole process of it. They're real in-the-zone beads. But someone once said that they were too 'fussy' and all that intricate detail restricted them too much as a jewellery designer when it came to incorporating them into jewellery. That's a totally reasonable observation and one person's opinion but heck, it got to me something chronic and from that day on I felt I shouldn't make that type of bead anymore. The same thing happened when a couple of people said they didn't like raised bumps on beads. I went through a long phase of doing sans-bumpy-bit beads even though I loved to make textured beads. And a couple of people suggested I make more flatter beads and less round ones.
While I was listening to Brenda last night it dawned on me that for the last couple of years I've completely discounted all the super-positive feedback and instead let about five 'negative' comments influence what beads I create. I realised that I'd lost my way. I was making what I thought other people wanted me to make rather than making the beads that I wanted to make.
This morning I woke up and I thought about the podcast and I remembered what Chris had said about making beads for fun.
That's what I did today.
I picked out my 'Chris Colours', pulled a load of stringer and made my favourite beads.
And for the first time in absolutely ages I got into that happy bead place.
And it was ace!
I can't give up the beadmaking. Beads are part of who I am. For a while I just kind of forgot how well beads and I work together. I just have to make what I want to make. It's that simple. It may sound selfish, I know, but I like those 'fussy' designs and the roundness of round beads. Beads want to be round - it's science. Turning molten glass will pull itself into a ball. Complex dots and lines are what I do. They're my thing.
While I'm being all sentimental I'm just going to take this moment to say a heartfelt 'thank you' to all my customers and blog readers. Without customers I wouldn't have a business and without blog readers I'd have even less people to talk to! Your support means a heck of a lot to me. And thank you too for reading this far and for hanging in there recently while I went off the beadmaking rails. I know that a lot of you knew something was wrong and so did I. Now I've figured out exactly what the problem is I can sort it out.
How am I going to do that?
I'm going back.
Back to my beloved dots and and lines.
Back to making beads for fun.
Back to Beads By Laura.