Monday, June 2, 2008

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Hi, there. I hope everyone had a good week last week. I don't know if I mentioned this or not, but I actually spent most of my time off in New York City. We had a great time (the Short One in particular, made out like a bandit), and I have a lot to tell, but before I get to all that, I wanted to stop for a bit today and say "thank you" to a few people.

My one year anniversary for working with metal clay passed last week. After procrastinating all month, on May 28th, 2007, I decided that I wanted to enter the Art Bead Scene Challenge for the month, the theme for which was "Ophelia's Garden". Even though I had made only made a whopping four beads (the first of which I actually ended up using in my design for the challenge necklace) with metal clay and hardly knew what I was doing, I decided that it would be perfectly plausible to execute a full necklace using the material in three days. I finished it just a few hours before the challenge deadline, and that was the start of everything that's happened for me over the past year, including this blog that you are so patiently reading.

I've met a lot of people and made many new friends during this year, which has been a wonderful experience. One of the things that has constantly surprised me is how generous, friendly and supportive the beading community is - the artists, authors, designers, editors, etc. who have so generously given their time to a newbie like me are too numerous to mention. I say "thank you" to all of them and am extremely grateful. However, there are a few people and/or organizations I would like to mention particularly as having had a great impact on my first year in jewelry and bead design:

The editors of Art Bead Scene. ABS gave me the initial inspiration I needed to get started working with metal clay. For the first several months, I designed almost exclusively around the ABS challenges. In fact, two of the pieces in the July 2008 issue of BeadStyle were created specifically for ABS challenges. Thank you so much to Heather Powers, Melanie Brooks Lukacs, Tari Sasser, Cindy Gimbrone, Elaine Ray, Lori Greenberg and Virginia Miska - editors past and present of ABS.

Sarah Moran. Anyone who reads this blog knows how much I love Sarah's work. Sarah happens to live in Oklahoma City near where I spent part of my childhood. She is completely sympatico and has patiently listened to me rabbit on on various beady topics for some time now. My current jewelry design sensibility has been greatly inspired by Sarah's work.

Beatrice Killeen of Fried Peas. Another favorite lampwork artist of mine! (Check out her beautiful stringer work when you get a chance.) She always made time for my beginner lampworking issues. She has also quietly (and often without even mentioning the fact to me) promoted my work on her website for the past year.

Melanie Brooks Lukacs of Earthenwood Studio. Back in the early days, before I even knew what an art bead was, I traveled up to something called the Bead & Button Show (on the recommendation of a friend of mine who owned a knitting store). Since I was a knitter and not a beader, I resolved only to buy buttons at the show (and I actually kept to that resolution, belive it or not). While there, I met a nice couple named Melanie and Chuck who were selling really beautiful ceramic buttons, among other things. I bought a heap of them, kept the business cards they gave me, got on the Earthenwood mailing list and checked the website from time to time (which eventually led me to Art Bead Scene, as Melanie is one of the founders). The amount of support I've received from Melanie, as I tentatively tested out the beading waters last year, so to speak, has been staggering. As just an example, this blog exists primarily because she encouraged me to start one.

Jennifer Kelly of CaliGirl Art Glass. Together, Beatrice Killeen and Jenn are the Hollister Hot Heads. Like Beatrice, Jenn does lovely things with glass. One of my favorite necklaces I have created ("Java Jive") uses a really beautiful set of beads I purchased from her. It will be published in Step by Step Beads in January 2009 (yay!). I originally met Jenn through Beatrice. I was trying to find out more about working with kilns and metal clay, and Beatrice told me I should contact Jenn. Despite the fact that I was a complete stranger, Jenn gave me a generous amount of her time answering questions about annealing glass and firing metal clay, and we've gone on in a similar fashion since then.

Rachel Place of Sugar Toppers. I met Rachel through the Art Bead Scene Challenge Flickr group. It turned out that we have very similar tastes in beads! Rachel is a talented lampworker in her own right. In fact, I'm working on a necklace using her beads right now. We've been beading and Mommy comrades for the past year. Rachel designed the lovely banner that you see above on my blog.

The editors of BeadStyle Magazine. I had a lucky break early on last year, in that the editors at BeadStyle accepted several of my pieces for publication right off the bat. Since then, I've had my fair share of rejections (believe me), but those initial acceptances gave me the confidence I needed to continue designing for publication. Call me shameless, but I still can't believe how beautiful the Gallery spread in the current issue of the magazine is.

Debi Cogwell, aka the Palm Tree Queen. When it comes to humorous lampworked beads, Debi's are definitely at the top of my list. Two of the first beads I purchased from her were a couple of Hip-Hop bunnies (and I mean hip-hop in genre of music - I didn't realize until the Husband pointed it out, but one of the rabbits is grabbing his crotch, with real Attitude). Debi was always generous with lampworking tips as I struggled my way through trying to design my own beads.

Lezlie Belanger of Canterbury Keepsakes. I like pretty much everything that Lezlie makes, particularly her sweets beads. Lezlie was also very generous with her time whenever I had a lampworking issue. She even once offered to anneal my beads for me before I bought my kiln, when I was having problems with bits of stringer popping off of my early beads.

There are many, many more people I could name here (and many people that I have met more recently, that I am just now coming to know). As I say, I can't believe what an open and friendly place the beading community is. I should probably also say that the opportunity to start making beads and jewelry really only arose after the Short One arrived (the hours I kept in my former job really prevented me from trying out a lot of this creative stuff), so I have to thank the SO, too.

To cap everything off, I just received notice today in the mail that my entry for the Fire Mountain Gems 2008 Beading Contest has made the cut and will be considered for final judging next month. My goal this year was to reach the finals in one of the contests I entered, so I am extremely happy. (Please wish me luck for the next stage!) Creatively, this has been a great year for me, and I can only reiterate how much I appreciate the help and support of my friends.

Thanks for listening. Tomorrow I'll have a photo from my trip to show you. Have a great day.


Anonymous said...

Wishing you good luck; I hope you make it!

Melissa J. Lee said...

Thanks, Vickie! I'm just happy to be a finalist. If I place, it'll be the icing on the cake!