Monday, October 12, 2020

What a strange year 2020 is!

 Dear Reader ,

I have left you in the beginning of the year all hopeful of how very exciting this 2020 business is going to be. I was jumping out of airplanes for a hot second, got two new tattoos, was going to show up at your local bead store and bead society and barely be home as usual, very much like the last seven years have been. 

Then life came to a full stop as you know it.

On a personal level, lots of changes happened. Without getting too personal, I am getting a divorce -it's still in the making because things take time, but it has been in the making for a lot longer than when the legal part began. This is all good. Not everything is meant for a whole lifetime, and endings do not negate beginnings and good times spent together. They just put a period at the end of a sentence that needs to not go on forever. Stories go on, people go on. It's the natural order of things.

I also got into a new relationship with an old friend and that part happened faster than I thought such a thing would come to pass, but then; god's ways aren't always knowable, so that's that. This year has been hard and I have been humbled and tumbled, chewed up and pooped out. After some terrible personal losses which are no subject for a blog post, life goes on. Day by day, during a strange, trying time. Let it suffice that I am not the same person I was when this year begun, and for that I am partially grateful and partially will be eternally sad. 

On a beady-business level, this year threw the monkiest monkey wrench  into my planning. In January I knew what I was going to do, who I was going to be, and where I was going to travel from Alaska to Holland in the next 2+ years. 

I had class projects lined up, no time to do anything but work.

Then the pandemic hit. Knowing some of you haven't left your homes since March, I do not need to introduce the fucking monster that robbed you of your year and probably the next one as well.

We all went from planning for years ahead to planning for the next month. Or the next week. Or tomorrow. Thank god, I am no longer in a situation having to earn my rent money working a minimum wage job. My heart goes out to every single person who had to show up to shitty jobs to make sure they don't get evicted, to put food on their kids' tables. To simply stay alive.

Thanks to the generous support of all y'all beadikin through the past so many years; I did not need to get a job selling either my body or my soul. I got to sit with my sorrows, fears, hopes, angst, itching to get on the road but staying put-  and ideas that I never had time for.

Let me explain what you have been getting out of me for the past 7 years while I have been teaching you beady projects: I went from having the shittiest day job with the biggest creative outlet on the side to trying to manage how to make 200 kits of the same project that I can teach for a year times seven or eight, to give everyone options. How to budget for this a year or two out. How to manage expectations. 

You showed up at your local bead store, I showed up with my classes and kits, you supported your bead store, you supported me, by taking my class I paid my bills and barely had time to think of anything else other than taking bathroom breaks.

This has always been a one flea circus. No matter how many cranky emails, Facebook messages and Etsy convos were sent to my shipping department/someone/anyone, it was always just me and it started to eat me alive little by little.

Then this pandemic hit.  Everyone is doing their zoom classes, all the sudden you can take any class with any person you always wanted to take a class with from across the globe- IN YOUR JAMMIES.

Good for you! But this came with tremendous expectations. Bead stores that sold my classes to their local beaders are now selling my classes to my customers I have had for years - globally. The whole industry went from local to global. This in a sense is a wonderful thing. There is diversity of new ideas, new ways to look at beading and so much progress and ground breaking innovation, I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

But you, dear beady reader, who now can take super cool classes from any artist far far away- you got spoiled. Well, I can't blame you. You deserve access to whatever is out there and those artists far far away are finally getting prime access to kind, generous US based beady folk. Everyone is happy.

Where does that leave me? It leaves me thinking: cream rises. But shit floats too. Only for so long. If something doesn't work, if someone is not a good teacher, you will not go back to them for seconds. I am full of great ideas and not ready to cry uncle and roll over. The beady paradigm has changed. You now have access to any instructor you ever wanted to take classes from across the globe, and you know what? This coincides with my need for not doing the same thing 200 times over.

Despite the terrible occurrences of this year, I have been more creative than ever. I am getting  really close to being done collecting material for my book I will self publish in the foreseeable future. I have cranked out more significantly new and exciting kits that you could do at your own home's comfort than any other year past.

I did teach plenty of zoom classes and I did finish my obligations to any bead store I had outstanding agreements with after April of this year till the end of 2020. But the days of me planning for two to three years ahead are gone. The days of a bead store offering classes in person to their local clientele are gone for the foreseeable future. We now all have the same customers.This does change at least for me how I offer classes.

 So the days of me laying out tens of thousands of dollars ordering materials for roughly seven or eight classes being taught over and over for a year at your local stores- those days are over as long as we are stuck at home. Let's face it: you are not going to your local bead store for the same reason I am not getting on an airplane to teach you. We are both scared shitless of a virus that may either be nothing, or kill one of us, or someone we come into contact with, or leave any of these parties incapacitated for the rest of their lives.

So you are in the market for beady classes. But given that you now can take anyone's classes anywhere, you might not give a hoot about the class you can take from me thrice a month from three different places in your jammies. And that is entirely good, because starting next year, unless a class is an absolutely fantastic groundbreaking idea like let's say- my butterfly class- you want something new.

Well, dear reader, it is just so that your need for  a new and exciting thing coincides with my not wanting to do the same thing 200 times over. Up till the quarantine, I haven't realized how heavy that was getting. How much it was limiting my creativity. It was definitely putting a break on experimentation, innovation, or at least on personal excitement about things I want to see existing in the world because I designed them.

So what does this mean for you and me? If you are one of my loyal customers who has been taking my classes for years and you enjoy step by step projects with really precise instructions; you will get what you need: these will be created in batches of 70-100 and sold on Etsy as they come out. I might not have more than one release, but at least you get a chance to get one of these limited edition kits.

For those of you dear friends who like my design classes, what I will do for you, and for my own excitable, experimentacious soul ( I know that's not a word, but it ought to be); for you, I will have limited edition design classes for 12 people at a time, only repeating as many times as there is a need for it, but certainly not dozens of times.

This will allow me to put together personalized kits for you, give you entirely one of a kind design elements and a lot more attention than you would get in an" in person" class, not only by the virtue of having half as many people in class as before, but also being able to see me beading alongside you throughout the entire class and you having to pick my brain all day.

This is not going to be something I will do every weekend. In fact, I kind of had it with being away from my own life almost every weekend, so most of these classes will be on my terms, during the week, with weekends added occasionally. Hopefully you will find them exciting enough to take a day off for them if needed.

What do I have planned so far? I will have a bracelet design class for sterling opals. I will have a design class for making a kickass necklace with antique keyholes. I will also participate in professionally organized weekend long online bead retreats and will keep on collaborating with bead stores as I see fit but a lot more rarely than  in the years past. We can either hold on to the past and hope that things will forever be the same while they are obviously not the same, or try to reinvent the wheel and keep on being creative in our own ways. That second option is what I will go with.

Where does that leave those of you who still can't afford to take my classes but really like my projects? I am not going to lie to you. I am not rolling in dough, so there is only so much random generosity I can offer. So far this year I offered some seats in some classes for free, given away lots of goodies as freebies and raised $9000 for the ACLU.On Thanksgiving I will give away more kits or classes. I am not sure about that just yet.

But my heart goes out to anyone who is stuck at home all by themselves with no end to this apocalypse in sight and no money to throw around. You are not alone! This pandemic has effected all of us, and I want to reach out to you and lift your spirits too. How about a beady book club on zoom? Free of charge. I pick a book that will make you feel better, then I send you a zoom link and we bead together and shoot the shit. I promise to pick things that are good for the soul. I bet you have a library to borrow from if you can't just buy the book, you have beads and I bet you NEED company. I am here for you. This is the best I can do. We can bead and converse and just hang out once a month. That's something. I think a book club is a good idea because this way we have something concrete to talk about. We don't need to sit around awkwardly waiting to start a conversation, shifting to politics and religion and things that trigger people.

If you follow my Facebook posts, you know where I stand on politics. I don't need to talk about that any more. And I also don't need an audience. I want to give you something that lifts you up and out of the collective misery this year has been, give you a fine way to escape and have a starting point for a conversation while you get to bead with people who also want to do exactly this. Bring a friend, bring a drink, do not give me any money, log onto zoom and just hang out for a while. Something to look forward to, ey? Can we ask for anything more than that this year? I sure can't.

 Your first book is: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

 The zoom meeting will take place in November. I will post the date here very soon.It will also be posted on Facebook. Thank you for reading this! 

Here is all the info for you to join on November 30th. It's a Monday, but I suspect this will be an all day sort of thing. Drop by as you feel like it. Bring your beads, bring your thoughts, bring yourself.

Here is the link to your new zoom book club for November 30th, Monday, starting at 10:00am mountain time going for at least 5 hours:Kinga Nichols is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: Kinga's Book Club
Time: Nov 30, 2020 09:00 AM Pacific Time (US and Canada)
Meeting ID: 813 3796 7320
Passcode: 612921
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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Nevermore Necklace

 Nevermore was created as a special project for my  beady friends who come to take my classes in record breaking numbers year after year at Bead Soup. Bead Soup is a lovely bead store located in the Baltimore area. Last year I made these fine beady friends Baltimore blue crabs that came in blue boy and Old Bay Seasoning colorway. For this July's classes a Poe themed piece was in order. It's not an easy task to construct a bead embroidered raven. Black is black and without contrast, the outcome can be a fine piece in person and a hell of a thing to take pictures of. Like black dogs, black beadwork is the hardest to photograph.
 Of course one still needs to consider wearability and innovation. If I just stick with the same approach year after year and do the same thing that we have done with the crab, but make a raven, that would get boring. So I was going to stray from a figurative representation and chose a more symbolic approach. The laser cut wood ravens and photograph of Poe I have painstakingly covered in glow in the dark paint that only shows in the dark, added glitter and about five layers of resin on each piece.
 I added a taxidermy eye that is very much like a raven's eye to be the center of the composition, and used the same glittery blues that I applied to the raven's wing throughout the project. Think light catching raven wing's that looks bluish black. Combine this with matte and shiny blacks, purple and yellow. That's the limited palette I chose for this piece. As to the shape; I was going for movement of wings. So much so that the first time you see this piece, the portion left and right of the eyeball should appear to be wings in flight. The direction of my beadwork emphasizes this movement. Upon closer inspection you will see the two ravens facing each other, but first they appear to be stylized wings in flight.  The tassel at the bottom of the necklace adds more movement too and its jet black brings the blues and purples into balance.
 Here is how it fits on me. My neck is 14 inches wide, the necklace of course can be made much bigger and somewhat smaller too just by sizing the leather cord different. I did not want to make it heavier feeling by the addition of beads on the rope portion,therefore I kept it easy peasy, simple and relatively light feeling to support the feeling of flight the rest of the composition takes on.
Here is Poe's skull and the two ravens glowing in the dark. The glow in the dark paint does show up, but of course you have to charge it under a light first. Still; it's an unexpected nifty touch, I think. See you all at Bead Soup in July!

Friday, January 17, 2020

“Midway along the journey of our life I woke to find myself in a dark wood, for I had wandered off from the straight path."

Today I am 40 years old. Back when I was younger, 40 seemed old. My mother's mother had my mom early. My mom had me before she turned 21. 40 was a a fine decade for becoming a grandmother and so far removed from my experience, I could not even fathom how my own life would be like at that point.

It's such a strange place in the journey of life. If I want to be an optimist, it's about a halfway point. 
Lots to look back upon and lots to look forward to. Part of me is thinking the world is falling apart by the seams and there is no way that as a species we have 40 more years left, but then part of me laughs at that shit,  chiding my internal doomkingers,  "there, there, little millenialist, this is the oldest story of mankind, you simply can't fathom in your egotistic ways that the world indeed can go on without you. "
 And truly, that is the most optimistic thought I have, the one saying that our western civilization has been falling apart for two millennia because ever since Jesus left the building, we have been collectively, actively fighting towards an end, so he may return quicker.
Hence no one can ever imagine the world going on as they get on in years, and we all get to the "back in my day" and the "kids used to be" era in our lives.
 When Jesus went home, the early Christians celebrated Easter every week for a couple hundred years for good measure, knowing the rapture was near, and of course it wasn't. Life went on disregarding everyone's ecstatic visions of the apocalypse. In a sense, when we get older and get to the before mentioned " back in my day" 'tude, it is an internalization of a greater cultural paradigm.
Our fervent millennialism and apocalypse thirst.

  How does this effect me and my pessimism looking into the future? Even as a non Christian, I suppose the millennialism rubbed off on me. Maybe  climate change, the general evil I see, the intolerance, the upsurge in hate, the rise of popularist, right wing politicians and governments across the world, maybe these justify doomkingers' grumblings.

But then I remind myself, there is no light without dark. There have been darker times, and we are still here. There are young people who are not willing to put up with the old ways that got us in this trouble. That for every Walking Dude, there is a Mother Abigail. For every Sauron, there is a Frodo, and a Smeagol and a Gandalf; and as much as I have protested the existence of a higher power governing our fate, somehow, as an olde birde, I am ok with the universe doing its thing and me not understanding it and hoping for the best.

 So whenever I feel like things are falling apart, I remind myself; they always have and always will be. And in a way, it will always be as it needs to be.
In that spirit, last year about this time I decided to conquer whatever fears kept me hostage. Even though I had a drivers license for over a decade, I dreaded driving. So I got myself a car and drove cross country.
I thought about how I spent much of the past 21 years getting really far from the things that defined my initial 19 years... But as I get older, I realize that much of who I am is still influenced by those who came before me. No matter how far I have removed myself mentally and physically from my place of birth and my family, when I look in the mirror, as I age, my mother and grandmother both look back at me.
Initially when I realized aging was going to visit this insult on me, it drove me nuts. I resent them for many things  for very good reasons.My grandmother passed away a year and a half ago, my mother is alive and reasonably well  and we have a relationship, but the past remains- at least for me- a dark place.
 So when they both started looking back at me in the mirror, I was pretty angry. My traitorous cheekbones,treacherous age spots  and the goddamn neck vagina thing coming in. Then I pondered it. Got a pot of very expensive cream for the neck vagina, which since then retreated a bit and if it decides to make its existence permanent, that's it, it's going to get chopped off. But for now, I apply that cream day and night even though it smells like puppy anal glands.
Then I decided it's the biggest cosmic joke and laughed my butt off. My mother abhorred my grandmother on such a deep level, they were the type of enemies only exist in comic books. Like Batman and the Joker, or Superman and his nemesis Lex Luthor. What a wonderful twist it is that while I am alive, both of them are co-present and have to be reflected in the same mirror, in the fleshmuppet that I am. And as time goes on, I make peace with little things, inside and out, by laughing at them and taming them, I guess.

It's interesting how some of it is subconscious. When I bought my car, I felt all sorts of exposed and vulnerable. So I got a first aid kit, a set of road flares, two tasers, a couple pocket knives, a thingy that cuts seat belts, a thingy that breaks the windows, in case in the high desert of Colorado I fall into  alligator infested waters. But I had a nagging feeling, that I surely missed something. So I called my bestie, Beki Haley and asked her what I might have forgotten. She said the tacks that fall out from underneath onto the pavement behind the car, because that's the only thing missing from my James Bond setup. But somehow the feeling of not having every possible thing I might need kept on nagging.
Until Facebook advertised a foldable tactical shovel - an entrenching tool basically, that may be used as a machete! Eureka! Of course I jumped on it asap. Now why did I do that? And why do I need all this crap, you might ask?
My father bought a new Skoda 120 in 1985. His first new car. It had a very small trunk. First aid kits are mandatory in Hungary, but he worked for an insurance agency, and was very thorough, so he had not only the standard first aid kit, reflective triangle, but the seat belt cutter and other  gadgetry too. His grandpa, my great grandpa Guszti survived the trenches of WWI miraculously, and brought home an entrenching foldable shovel and a three legged folding stool. These were revered objects, and so despite all my mother's  vituperation, the holy objects remained in the car's trunk for decades. Never mind diapers or clothing or food for a family of 6, one might need the entrenching tool, therefore it stays.
This influenced me in ways I only realized this past year. For one, I can never sit in the passenger seat of a car without piles of stuff in my lap. (Where do you think the diapers and clothing and food traveled in that car?) When I figured out I am reenacting the lack of space, I had to laugh about that too.
For two, it took my special foldable entrenching tool to arrive for me to see that  I was still missing something, and I ought to get a three legged folding stool as well. And only then, did it register with me, that no matter how far I have been running  and for how long, there really is no running away from any of it.

My great grandpa's surviving the war even a hundred years after the fact on the other side of the planet still influences a life. Mine. In a way my dad is hunting me. My grandmother is hunting me. My mother is hunting me two, even though she is still alive. And it is what it is. Every life is full of ghosts and they are neither good or bad, they just are and we can coexist. Some days things are easy, some days are harder.

Just by the time I thought I reinvented myself, I had to conclude that life was; is and forever will be; a tricksy thing. That the nice apes we are, we are so very influenced by the first decade of our life, no amount of self improvement can outrun that imprinting. And that it is ok to try, it is ok to get angry, it is ok to think you succeeded, and it's ok to realize that you haven't in many ways, but it many other ways you have. 
For me this year is going to be about balancing things out, I think. Gaining an equilibrium. Internally and physically.
The past year I successfully lost a bunch of weight and ran a lot, then I fell off the diet wagon and gained some back. Ever noticed that one is always  GETTING into shape and FALLING out of shape? Getting is so active and falling is so passive, something that just happens.

For a change, it would be nice to fall into shape. But alas, if your body is like mine, constantly aiming to perfect itself by becoming a cute orb, falling into shape is just not something that will come to pass.

  I never stopped running for good. That has been a part of my life on and off since I was 11. As the rather rotund individual  most of you know me as, it's hard to see me as a "runner".

 In fact, many nice people ask me how I stumbled upon running ,as if it was just something I fell over and faceplanted upon. It's a much longer story. I was 11 and tubby and my mom gave me an ultimatum: play hand ball, which is a vicious team sport for women involving hand-eye coordination,  scheming,  aggressive and  unpleasant team mates, or become an orienteer.

Orienteering is running in the woods with a compass and a map mostly by yourself in places you haven't been before. Sometimes at night,mostly in the day. You can guess which I decided to suck at for the next 5 years while enjoying myself tremendously.

While I never became the Olympic runner and national treasure that my grandpa Mecser Lajos  is, I acquired a healthy taste for hedgehog like shuffling  movement that keeps me happy. Sure there were long periods of time when I was not running. But I never gave up on it. So it's not like just something that I decided to do, out of the blue.  Anyhow, more or less rotund, I don't intend to give up on it as I age. Don't intend to give up on remaining as physically active as possible in general. Since at 40, I am not going to get much taller, faster or any such, I just keep at the things that keep me happy and sane, and try new things I always wanted to try.

Like skydiving. That is how I will celebrate this momentous occasion.

And that's how you get from Dante to Skydiving while touching on Christianity, The Stand, Lord of the Rings, Comic books and WWI.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The importance of fartig around and doing things just for the sake of enjoyment and how it relates to designing things for new classes

Scrolling through the first seven images and the very last one, you will see pendants- or dongles as my friend, Dusty calls hers- that I made specifically for no other reason than to bead for fun and make gifties for my friends. Out of the giant pile I ended up keeping two, because by the time I got all that beading out of my system, I had plans...

You see, I made most of those while I was on vacation for less than a week visiting my bestie, Franklin Martin Jr. We did not have an agenda for this trip other than taking the dogs to the dog beach a lot and beading a lot and eating tasty food. So it ended up being a very soothing type of vacation. It was really nice to just sit on my butt and make pleasing dongles out of the large bag of beads and whatnot I took with me on this cross country road trip.

It is indeed nice to not have an agenda. Just to bead for the enjoyment of it. Does this mean I don't enjoy beading when making samples or designing class stuff? No I thoroughly enjoy that too, but there is something special about not giving a rat's ass if something can be recreated 200 times over. Unless you design things that can be recreated 200 times over and you know that this means having your sources and materials in order and all that goes with it, this is hard to explain. Let's just say that making things that only need to exist once is enjoyable in the way that throwing a nice meal together for yourself is verses cooking a ten course meal for a large party. You love cooking, no matter what, but it's a very different experience, isn't it?

 Of course as usual, when there are pictures of something, and the pictures go up on Facebook, there is a lot of ooh and ahh and there is the disappointment of people who would like to make that thing, the thing shown and why is it not a kit or class.
 The thinly veiled guilt trips that go with it.. " Its not nice to tease us with things we can't have."

 At times I feel like it's not nice to expect that every aspect of my creativity can be purchased, but then I take a chill pill and sit with the idea of what did I learn from this, that could be turned into something that pleases the nice peeps who like to take classes from me?
 Because of course I am grateful for the nice people who want to have everything I make, want to make everything I make. Without them, I would not have the privilege of doing what I enjoy doing and make a living while at it.
So by the time I made the pile of lovelies for my friends for Christmas, I realized that this idea would make a fine concept for a design class. 

I started offering design classes last year. When I teach at venues, there are 2-5 day long classes. Most of these are project based. I think most people taking the classes are more comfortable with that approach. But I find that there is also a need for design classes. People want to challenge themselves and play and experiment but oftentimes the idea intimidates them. Nothing makes me happier than having someone who is sort of scared of designing something leave with a happy smile and a feeling of empowerment knowing that they are definitely more capable than they expected. That they are on their way of creating something that they did not think they could, but now they know they can and they will use what they learned in their own work.

Thinking about all of this made me realize what connected all these pendants even though I used different components. What would make this a fun class, something enjoyable where participants could really just design as they go, picking from beautiful options.

One of the hardest aspects of offering a design class compared to a project based class where I have pre-packed kits everyone is working from is that I need to have about 5 times as much stuff with me. You can't have a design class with meager offerings. It's obvious that my samples are just a starting point. A design class is not about recreating any of these pendants pictured. The images are to get you excited. Sure I will obviously have many components similar to and even the same as pictured. But everyone's pieces will end up being different. So let's say for a class of 20, I really need to show up with about 100 focals to give people options. And that goes for every element of the design, there should be quite a bit more options than people in class, so no one ends up with random stuff left over just because they were not early.

So as you can imagine, a successful design class depends on a large sum invested into materials people will want.  I purchased hundreds of laser cut wooden components for this purpose and so far spent about 50 hours embellishing them with glow in the dark powder in UV gloss, flowers, glitter....   I will have piles and piles of seed beads,swarovski crystals, shaped beads and findings for people to choose from.

As far as the design classes go, because of the amount of materials that they need and the investment of time and effort, for every event may that be at a bead store or bead society, there is only going to be one design class. Or I will go bonkers and that would not serve anyone well, hence this is a rule that I will stick to.

And that's how experimenting, playing with a simple concept for presents turned into a design class. I am liking the evolution here. This idea shall be known as the Triumvirate Pendant Design Class, because the focals or in some cases the clusters of focals end up being three.  There are other key points to designing them, but this is like a movie preview. Want to see the rest? Come take a class from me in 2020.
The little raccoon was a special purchase from Etsy. Some of the stones I used came from Gary Wilson from years ago, so it's obvious that those will not be offered in a design class setting.
This could possibly be a starting point for a design class. While I don't have more of the rectangular face carvings, I could look into getting other bone carvings similar to it. The rest of it is easily recreatable.
Design classes are always a good way for people to bring their favorite items in they want to include. So oftentimes no matter how much stuff I bring, there is a lot more because participants tend to bring their own special goodies too.

Here we are getting closer to what to expect: the laser cut, uv resin coated embellished components will be a starting point to most of these explorations.
Just to show you that my interests are not limited to eyeballs, crypt doors and zombie babies in jars, here is a incarnadine porcine avian wonder of a pendant. So much pink. So fleshy and flashy as well. Entirely doable in class, pigs will be provided, crystals, leather, cup chain..
I wish there was a way to show off how these glow in the dark. It's delightfully creepy. It was hard to get it so the glow in the dark layer does not wash the images out too much when you are just viewing it in daylight. On some of them the effect is sort of eerie. I love the way these focals are turning  out. Better yet, I will have everything from crypt doors to hunted dolls and also pretty, non too creepy things.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A post on what happens before everything happens

One of the questions I tend to get as soon as I post a picture of a new project is " when will this be a kit?" 
This is a fine question. There is nothing wrong with this question, it is entirely valid, reasonable and logical too, since eventually if all goes well class projects will become kits.To answer this, I decided to tell you all about the process. Get a cup of hot chocolate, tea or coffee and settle into a comfy chair. I promise you this will be a faster read than the process itself, but not by much...

 Let's use the project on the pictures for an example. I went to Tucson in 2017, and purchased about fifty of the laser cut mother of pearl focals there. That is all I got. By the time I got home I realized that is not going to be enough for a serious class project I can keep on teaching all year long, because of lucky me,  having so many of you lovely beaders supporting me by taking my classes, on an average this would be enough for maybe a little over two classes. To make matters more complicated, my fifty focals were not even the same size. Same design: the one with the sort of oriental motif, but two slightly different sizes....  

Here you might ask: Kinga,why did you not order more? I can tell you why: The company I buy these from comes to the US twice a year, one of those times is when they are Tucson, the other one I do not recall.  They don't have a website, they are overseas, and if I wished to import from them, I would need to have a fish and wildlife importing license. Yes. Don't ask me what that is, and where one gets it, let it be enough to suffice that since mother of pearl carvings are animal derived bittsies, one must be in possession of that magical license.

Needless to say, I did not apply for such a license.

Now what? I thought I would release it as a kit. But as time went on and I traveled so much, taught all over the place, and worked long long hours to get ready for the next teaching trip and write up instructions, take pictures, make other samples, and make kits what seemed like day and night, this just never happened. 

Then, in mere two years of my initial purchase, I was able to scurry back to Tucson, bringing my sample of the carving approaching the nice vendor with great hopes of acquiring more of this magical thing. The success was partial: I was able to get  some more of  the carvings, about the same size as half of my previous stash, but this time they are a tree of life motif. Not as many as I hoped to get, but now I do have enough for a while. 

So I hurried home, made up samples. So far I have made three samples. Two in the original teal and pink colorway, one in orange.

The next thing I will do is to make at least one more sample. This time around I will have to carefully photograph it step by step for the instructions.
Then I will have to write the instructions.

By the time the I am done with the instructions, I would have made this piece at least four times. Sometimes it is more. 

With some projects I ask beady friends to help me make  samples. This is helpful finding out what part of the process gives potential students a hard time.
These days though, most samples are made by me. It helps me figure out how to best explain it by the time I have to explain it. I get to know the beastie intimately:

The first time the process is exploratory. The second time I am trying to recreate the first success, oftentimes scratching my noggin trying to figure out what I did.
The third time we are making friends. The fourth time is the charm. Anything after that is gravy. Is it boring to make the same thing that many times? I take that over making kits for 14 hour days any day. Both things are part of my job and happen, but I would prefer to be beading. And listening to audio books while I do so. So I don't mind making that many samples.

As you can imagine this all takes time.
It gets worse.

After the first time but before the fourth time I made the sample, I post pictures of it on Facebook and here on my blog  to gauge interest. What good is a class project if people aren't into it, right?
So pictures go up, questions come in: When is this available as a kit?  And this is how things come full circle.

After the class project is announced, bead stores I will be teaching at may book the project. My class offerings are like a menu, but the final pick is theirs.

This means that I have no idea when I post the pictures exactly when and where I will be teaching that project. This might become clear in a short time,or it might take longer depending on the venue. It might also  vary based on what exact project we are talking about, but usually that is the case.

So you see, what happens is:
1.I hunt for components in advance in hopefully large quantities.
2. I make up samples.
3. Bead stores pick up the project.
4. I make more samples and write instructions.
5. I teach the project. This begins months after the first pictures surface, and goes on for about at least a year.
6. If I am lucky enough to have access to more materials required for making more kits, I will and I will sell it AFTER I am done teaching the project. Sometimes this is feasible, but if I don't have access to the materials, then I simply can not oblige popular demand. 

That's a lot of information without pictures. Let's have some pictures now.

There, both laser cut mother of pearl focals on the same color bracelet. I am sure both will be loved. And even the small ones will be loved too. In fact I am entirely hopeful about this project being loved altogether.  Which is a good thing for me, because I went to Tucson twice in two years to make this  happen and in the absence of the unicorn license, I foresee buying another airline ticket and renting another hotel and making another pilgrimage to get more.

I sure hope this posts helps understanding about the process. May it also help those who are in the process of establishing themselves as beady teachers. It took me years to figure this out, I hope it helps someone with their planning.

Now, mind you, not everything I do is a class project. I do also release kits for sale as I have time. Take Bone Daddy for example.
Because I used a template from a previous class project for this, and because I don't have to send bead stores samples of it, I only had to make this project twice. First time to see what happened, and the second time to take pictures for the instructions. You can purchase this kit in my Etsy store.

So you see, I do try to make sure there are kits for those of you, nice beady friends too, who can't come and take classes. Sure, not everything is available for everyone at all times. That's just the way the cookie crumbles.I wish I could please everyone, but that is a futile wish and it leads to failure, so instead of wishing for that, I am back to doing other parts of my job, to keep this ship afloat. Cheers!

I was able to fly to Las Vegas, just to go to a bead show, just to see the vendor of the mother of pearl components and  purchase more. That means more classes of this project all over the place! Lucky me, lucky people who get to take this class too.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Here we come, 2018!

Happy New Year, Beady friends! May this year be filled with love, hope, happiness, health and all the good things one can wish for. Personally, I can't complain. As far as I can tell, this is going to be another wonderful year filled with lots of travel, a veritable amount of shinies with holes- aka beads, and surfaces to stitch them on. What else can one hope for? I am healthy, my family is healthy, other than Baby Karl having staples in his little ear, all is well, and the staples no longer itch, so I can honestly say I am happy as a clam. So is he, because by not scratching, he does not need to wear the cone of shame.

Sweet Sammy is entering her golden years with a surprising amount of grace and dignity. A whole lot of hopping and barking too. There are old lady dog cankles and creaky backs to deal with on some less fun days, but hey, life is such. May that be the worst to ever happen to any aging beauty, canine or human.
As for Paul and I, our whiskers are getting gray a bit too. I would be fine with that if they were existing whiskers, but in my case the real surprise is when I find them where they ought not grow in the first place.  Again, life is such. But all in all, we are doing pretty spiffy.
Thanks to a large number of fortunate circumstances, we got to go back to visit my family in Hungary and visit our best friend in France. In fact, the past two years really made up for the previous ten, when I did not get to see anyone. Good things are worth waiting and working for, one might say, which might be true. On the other hand all the hard work and waiting does doodley squat without some luck, so I am not going to get on a high horse and pretend that I deserve all the wonderful things that have been happening to me. In general, I don't think anyone deserve anything any more than other people. Hard work and patience are virtues indeed, ones a person should cultivate during her temporal existence out of the sake of joy they cause, but they are no guarantee for anything. And so I am all the more grateful for things like being able to travel to Europe.

I have been to the Beaders Best Show in Stuttgart, as the featured guest artist this spring. The good people of Perlen Poesie who organize this event even featured me on the cover of the summer issue of the magazine. The show was fun, and I got to meet beady peeps from all over Europe.
Here is Claudia Cattaneo signing an autograph on my back, with Joanne Zammit next to me. I got to spend time with Joanne, one of the best things about that trip. She is not only a wonderful artist and a designer with an eye for perfection, but smart and interesting! We went sightseeing together.

Here is a picture with Joanne, Thorsten Grotke-Wegner and Julie Romero. If you are not familiar with their names, it's time to look them up. You are looking at the beady future!
Another exciting thing that happened to me this past year was creating five more online courses for Interweave publishing to follow up the previous year's two videos. Kristal Wick was in charge of the process, and her expert guidance helped me through this challenge.I had a wicked cold at the time, and weighed 30lbs more. Consequently, all the new people I meet this year think that I am "taller" (isn't that nice), look "better" (hehehe) and sound better. I am going to just say that I haven't seen any of the videos because I can't imagine torture more acutely tuned into tormenting my ego than watching myself for hours, but I was told I did good. The crew liked me, even the sound guy did who had to listen to me blowing my nose and gurgle for days.But the videos are selling, and I am told that viewers find them useful and inspiring, which makes me very pleased.

I now have a deeper understanding and admiration for movie magic, and seeing my beautiful but somewhat overly rotund shape scared me into instantly dropping some weight.

 Hell, who am I kidding. It took countless hours of slo-mo hedgehog - like scuffling, an activity I like to refer to as running, a lot of green smoothies abundant in kale and the initial very strict diet.

I have been all over the US, traveling  a lot to bead stores and bead societies and retreats, hugged many of you, fellow beady peeps and had grand times. It was a good year, and the way I see it, 2018 is shaping into being another one just like it. For one, I get to go back to France. This time for a beady cause non other than a grand tour of "Beads, Bordeaux &; Chateaux".  
Let me show you the projects I will get to teach.
Monastery Windows at Dusk
 Here we have the super model herself wearing this exciting new piece...
 On the Nature of Daylight Pendant. Yes, double ropes of size15 CRAW. You are seeing it right. I am thinking: there is nothing better than hanging out at a French castle, drinking tasty wine in good company, while  picking away at never ending craw. It is a paradisaical vision of mine to devise exquisite tortures for all who are willing to submit to my beady rule. Muwahahaha!
 It is so worth the effort, though. The finished piece is like the last rays of the sun shining through Gothic windows. I think at almost 38, I can admit to a life long obsession with the aesthetics of Catholic churches. May they be Romanesque or Gothic, whenever I am near one, I go in, walk around, go to the crypt if it's allowed; and in general; breathe it in.  Musty dead saints and all. The macabre opulence, the rich history of power, suffering and divine joy, the wrongness and rightness of it excites me, and remain a central element of inspiration in my admittedly somewhat twisted little world.

No great surprise that the third, last piece in the collection is called Relic. It's a set of earrings, which is exciting to me, because I personally don't care for earrings, and whenever once in a while I design a set, they are ok, but not outstandingly so. This one is beyond ok. I like it. Not only will it do in a design sense, but I actually like wearing it, and it flows like magic. It is a good feeling when things I make flow like magic.
You see, sometimes the nicest things are not the most complicated things. I know for me it took years to "edit" my beady self from wanting to do too much in every piece. It is all too easy to hurl everything onto one design. It is a lot harder to strip things down to the most desirable elements where every bead matters.
Meanwhile, as you are reading this, listen to Max Richter's  On the Nature of Daylight.
Thank goodness, you can for 10 hours if you feel the need for it. I have listened to this a lot last year, even named the pendant after it.
 Here we have the pendant in situ. I ran out of models a long time ago. It is a major pain in the butt to be the photographer and model at the same time and I don't like it. Models, please knock on my door. I miss the days of taking pictures of other people.

Now, onto the things I have seen in France last time. This is of course the tip of the iceberg of the images stored in my noggin. I could stay in bed all day and visualize inspiring architecture and art and have a great time. But I wanted to give you a window into what gets me excited.
And to tell you, that travel is good for the soul.
This trip is in dire need of adventurers signing up. I am saying this of course having an ulterior motive: I want to go, and it will only happen if there are enough people signing up.

 Just in case you have been wanting to go to France and you can wing this trip, please sign up quick. I promise we will get into all sorts of trouble. I have a way of doing that. Only the good kind though.

At any rate, here is a doorway. This door is leading in and out of  the courtyard of my friend's house in Dijon. It might just be the most magnificent door I know. I have come to know this door, having visited three times. The stories it could tell, if it was able to speak... May this door symbolize for me-and throughout me for you too- all the good things that this new year shall bring.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Welcome to my gallery of things that only exist for their own purpose...

.... What do I mean on this title? Well, I truly enjoy coming up with exciting class projects and kits. It's a challenge to make up a design that can be recreated over and over, taught to a great number of beady people in a workshop format. A project that features interesting elements, techniques, stuff people haven't done before.

To me, that's about ten times as hard as sitting down with my own stash featuring one of a kind components, like semi precious stones I hoard, or a vintage purse frame, and then just letting loose and not ever thinking about the future of this piece as a project.

And as I was saying in my previous post, I oftentimes get reprimanded for not making everything, every part of my creativity accessible to everyone's needs. Because somehow my creativity has become public property. I don't resent this fact. At all. I love my life, sharing my creativity pays my bills and feeds my pups.
And not only are they well fed, they get to have a wonderful life. So do I and my husband Paul. And that's why I have no regrets and in general, I am happy as a clam.

But there will always be things that I just make for the fun of it. Just to experiment, to play, to learn new things, to breath inbetween all my trips, all my responsibilities, and I decided that from here on, I will stop apologizing for not making this little section, this tiny part of me not available for public consumption. Without me making these things for the sheer joy of just creating, the rest won't happen.

Without further ado, I give you all the things that are only available for your viewing pleasure and to serve as inspiration and beyond that they just exist because why not. Some of these I will keep, some I will give away to the right person, and that has little to do why they exist in the first place. They exist because making them pleases me.

 From top: andamooka opal bracelet, wooden carved Buddha bracelet and a bracelet with eyes. Eyes are by Wayne Robbins, the bronze components are by Wayne's wife Judie Mountain, andamooka opal by Althea Rose Duffy.
 Three opal bracelets. On top a boulder opal, then a synthetic opal surrounded by Ethiopian opals, then on the bottom another boulder opal with Ethiopian opals. Varying sources of materials, do not recall the sources.

 A Colombian amber focal surrounded by watch bittsies and Ethiopian opals.
This sterling silver focal came from my friend, Marcia Balonis. It was a gift.

 This piece features a Russian enameled Virgin Mary with a homunculus Baby Jesus. I called it "For a Catacomb Saint" and it was featured in the summer edition of Perlen Poesie.
 Here we have the bracelet with the eyes again.

 Closeups of some of the pieces I introduced before.

 This wrap bracelet also features one of Althea Rose Duffy's opals. It's quite magical. But then, as you might have figured out, I do have an opal habit.
 This vintage Judith Lieber purse frame came from Beads by Blanche. I wanted to make something for myself that was suitable for occasions when dragging my 15lbs bottomless black hole of a "purse" was simply not the way to go. Since opals are not the only thing I stash like a dragon and I have a veritable arsenal of ammolites as well, I figured I would bedeck the whole thing in ammolite cabochons. It is satisfyingly heavy and wonderful from every angle. I am very pleased with myself.
 Look at them shine. Since this is my latest creation, I am particularly fond of it for the time being.

 And it's pretty on the inside too. I lined it with pewter lambskin.
 And here we have two more pictures of my synthetic opal bracelet. It fits so well. Paul got me the opal at the Rocky Mountain Bead Society's bazaar last year, and I stashed it, called it precious and fondled it a lot before I gave up on the infinite possibilities of what it could have become and picked a linear path for it. It has become my favorite piece to wear this year.
And that's the end of it. I think the lesson is that I am happy to share everything I make even if it's just show and tell. May it serve as some sort of inspiration.