Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Blue Piranha 2.0 (or 3.0). I Know, it's Hard to Keep Up

I began my business in 2003. And now, nearly ten years later, I am beginning it again.

Okay, that's not entirely accurate. I've been beginning it again now for a couple of years. It's seen more revamps and changes than...well, let's just say it's seen a *lot* of changes.  :)

Back in 2003, I was stringing beads, as I had been for most of the eight years prior (my love of jewelry design was a hobby before it was my livelihood). My first show - it did not come close to qualifying as an "art festival" - was in Woodstock, Georgia. A bit off the beaten path. It was, as you may suspect, rather sparsely attended. Hell, it was sparsely populated with artists - I think there were a total of thirty of us. We mostly sat quietly in our booths, wondering, waiting, and hoping. It was a long weekend. Oh, and it rained. My business was off to quite a start!

My first display was rented tables and cloths. Shiny satin-like cloths, in what were supposed to be a nice, neutral cream color, but turned out more like a light yellow. Do I have to tell you that it was not good? It was not. I had shells out on the tables for display stands. Why shells? I had some vague idea of piranha = fish = water = shells. The shells *did* look good...in fact, they looked so good that people kept asking to buy them. Oh, they bought a little jewelry too, but they really liked the shells.

In hindsight, maybe I started selling the wrong product?  :)

Anyhoo, one of my best sellers at these early shows was the Harmony bracelet. I'll show you the last remaining one, from my personal stash:

So now you know...I did have the humblest of humble beginnings! When I talk about "starting from where you are" I really mean it. I began with the basics. There was really nowhere to go but up.  :)

When I did research at juried art festivals, I realized just how much beaded jewelry was out there. Seeing that made me think about how I was going to differentiate, how I would compete, what I would offer that was unique and unusual. And I didn't have any happy answers. I knew I loved color; that's been a constant since I can remember (note that the bracelet above is chock-full of color), but other than that, I was so not unique.

I knew I wanted to play around with metal, so I started messing with wire. I shaped it, I bent it, I curled it...and eventually I had some designs I thought were pretty good. Around 2005-2008, I had a booth of mostly wire and bead designs. Shows were crowded, customers were happy, and I was making some decent money. I even had people occasionally say things like, "Where did you go to school for this?" and "You've really done something different!" (the ne plus ultra of design, at least for me). I was pretty pleased with myself. Pleased enough to try and ignore the nagging question of....what's next? 

 mid-Aughts bracelet design

Because I didn't know what was next. I felt like I had no ideas. I was frozen, paralyzed. I had a lot of sketches in my sketchbook but no way to make them happen. Well...no way to make them happen in the clean, modern style that is part of my design aesthetic. And so began the long, long, looooooong journey into fabrication. You may have read about it on this blog.  :)

from the bracelets above...to this...I could not be happier. Charoite pendant

Jumping ahead to 2012:  I had a bit of a design breakthrough earlier this year with the mosaic pieces. And I'm still working through what direction I'm going to take those designs. So far the direction looks like bigger, more intricate jewelry. Also maybe bigger mosaic metal pieces. Those tiny buggers are so labor-intensive and hard to handle with my hand tremors. And I just designed that B-I-G necklace and really liked the feel and size of it...I'd like to make a B-I-G mosaic necklace... bracelets...rings...there's so much more to come!

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