Thursday, August 21, 2014

Crime and Punishment, and what I got out of it all

 I have given a complete account of how "Crime" came to be two posts ago, but here is a picture to refresh our memory.  Lucky me, Crime took home third place in the Swarovski category from BeadDreams. Woohoo, did not see that coming, and I could not be happier about it. 

I had an extremely hard time  making Crime, and no doubt it was due the the very personal nature of the piece: it made me face my demons and fears. Compared to Crime, Punishment was a cakewalk.
 "Punishment" was made for the Battle of the Beadsmith. As a competition piece, it was a complete flop, got kicked off sooner from the battle than either one of my two previous pieces,in the second round. But just like I did not cry myself to sleep the past two years, I did not feel the need for that this time either.
Once again, I want to remind anyone who might be reading this, who much like me likes to enter competitions, that your self worth and respect ought not to be wrapped up in the outcome of any of these events. You win some, loose some. It's awfuly subjective to judge art, especially from pictures. And  Punishment  is smaller then Crime and was not winning material to begin with. What it was, was therapy. What it was, was a dead bird hanging from two grinning fishies' mouth  It set my mind and soul at ease, and it made all the emotional silage that Crime has stirred up before, settle down in peace.

 If Crime was  terrible labor, Punishment really was a cakewalk. It came together painlessly and was done in no time. Maybe time just flew more. Now, why is that? Well, with Crime, I was the fish in the claws of the mythical monsters of my past. With Punishment, the fish, and now there are two of them,( interpret that as you may) slay the monster for good. Yes. This necklace is of a dead monster and two weird fishies killing it. Entirely not a winning competition piece, and completely, utterly freeing on a personal level.
 At the end of the day, Punishment is the one I glance at with love as I type these words, and Crime  I carefully study. Crime definitely has more intense details and I can see why the judges liked it. But I can't wait to see it go and leave my house. And it will, because it's already found a new home, and good riddance to it. I definitely won't miss it. I might keep Punishment around a little longer though. Makes me happy looking at the dead Kókó dangling from the mouth of the happy little fishies. 

 If you are reading this and you aren't convinced that I am a nutcase, then you might just agree that any kind of art oftentimes comes from the darkest places and pulling it out little by little is like pulling thorns from under nails or draining poison from a snake bite. Not everything one makes has to be dark, but art can be the best therapy there is, and oftentimes the most amusing things we create, and  most cheerful things we can give as artists, come from some deep dark places. I exorcised my demons and conquered them by making this piece, and  it's entirely inconsequential that one got some serious acknowledgement for being awesome, and one fell short.
Unlike with years of psychotherapy , the results of beady therapy can be sold  at the end of the session,and they can bring joy to others as well. Any therapy has it's place of course and I am not discouraging anyone from participating in any other sort of therapy, but if you are a beader, you know that creating with beads is good for the soul and can  soothe all sorts of aches.
That's all there is to it. I guess I had to sit on this  for a couple months to be able to put it this way. But that's all there is to it.
Thank you Anna Alford for bringing my creations to life.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Before I tackle bigger things, here is some eye candy.

The last few months of my life have gone by in a blur, as I got busier and busier not only with commissions and competition pieces, but with teaching opportunities and getting ready for these teaching opportunities.     I have completely abandoned my poor poor blog, deserving of so much more.
Even at the best of times I am a lot better at making things than talking about them, but recently the situation got a lot worse. Gone are the days of documenting every piece I make, because I simply don't have the time, and it seems like most people reading this blog are also on Facebook, and I just got really used to posting all my pictures there, instead of writing about them here.
Of course the blog format is a lot more friendly to long monologues about all sorts of things, and I shall not forget that,and will be trying to get back to writing more, but for now I just decided to post some pictures here of some of my favorite efforts since this spring.
I am planning on writing a post regarding placing third in the Swarovski category in Bead Dreams, and also plan on writing more about my slowly but surely unfolding future as a teacher. 
For now, enjoy the eye candy.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bead Dreams, 2014: Crime

 This piece needs a whole lot of explanation. 
Nope, it's not a pelican, although it sure looks like one, and that's ok by me.
What the black bird monster is, is the Kókó.
Not many of you will know who Kókó is, so let me tell you about him.
He eats little children. Alive. He is of Portuguese origins, well known ins Spain too,where he is called  Cucuy, and  there they have a  sweet nursery rhyme about him that goes
Duérmete niño, duérmete ya...
Que viene el Coco y te comerá.
                                                          Sleep child, sleep now...
                                              Or else the Coco will come and eat you
 He apparently has a lady friend , the Coca who hides on rooftops waiting to take children who don't go to sleep as they should.
In Spain, The Coco/ Cucuy is oftentimes portrayed as a ghost with a pumpkin head.
In my childhood, no one portrayed him as anything, other then the ONE who will  surely come and eat me alive if I don't go to bed.
How on earth did a Portuguese  monster sneak into my Hungarian bedroom? I will never know.

 I remember a night I spent at my grandma's house with my aunt. My aunt is only 8 years older then me, and 13 years younger than my mother, and so we were quite close, more so than her and my mother used to be.
I was about 4 or 5 and my grandma put me to bed, and my aunt kept on sneaking to the door opening it just enough to poke her hand in, making horrible shadows with her spider like moving fingers telling me that the Kókó is coming to get me. My grandma did not understand why I was shrieking with terror, and my aunt of course assured her that she has not done anything to facilitate my reactions.
There were metal bars on the window of the room and wind outside  at night, and the knowledge of things in the dark, things that somehow eat children alive.
 Now, most people will think that this must have been an entirely traumatic experience for me, but for whatever reason I found my footing in the world of shadows and dark creepy things just fine, and up till today, nothing sets my mind at ease as much as good horror stories and movies. 
There used to be a wolf living under the sink in the bathroom in our old family apartment, who prevented me from going to the bathroom at night, man under my bed who would rip my arms off if they poked out from under the blanket, a devil paper mache mask on the wall that became real at night, and antler trophies complete with skulls accompanying the devil in the hallway as lesser demons.
Not to mention the boogeyman, who is called the man with the sack. He comes at night too, but in my book, he was less formidable  and far more civilized then the Kókó, because he cooked children before eating them, after transporting them in his sack. But my sister feared him more than the Kókó.
 To each her own, I guess.
My first nightmare I can recount was my pillow shaped stuffed frog swallowing me whole while the devil in the hallway laughed. I can still mentally rewind the details.
But in many ways real everyday life turned out to be a lot less reliable and orderly than Kókó, the man with the sack and the wolf under the sink were....
One makes bargains with one's monsters. They always follow rules.
(In stories and fairy tales  there are always rules of conduct for monsters. These rules unfortunately don't apply to fellow humans. They are a ruthless bunch, )
So maybe that's why I was always ok with the monsters and they became acceptable parts of life for me.
One night quite a while ago, I  was in that really sweet place inbetween being awake and falling asleep, where ideas oftentimes emerge from, and I was thinking how Kókó never really took a shape for me. I was wondering what would he look like. All the sudden it came to me that he was a big meany bird.
 Kind of like the tragically beautiful Greater Adjutant, cousin to the Marabou Stork.
 Look at this face, isn't he just the most charming sort of ugly?
I also wanted to reference the creepy plague doctor masks from medieval Europe.
Nothing creepier than that.Deliciously, delightfully creepy every which way.

That's how the Kókó came to be a bird. And he symbolizes my fears, and bad feelings that accompany my childhood. The fish he holds in his claws is my childhood self I guess, if I have to be analytical about this piece.
Hence the name Crime.The bird herself, well it's a bird. Not going to go into details about that.
But there is more to this story, and what comes around, goes around, expect part II in the form of Punishment in about 2 months......

For now, I am grateful and humbled by this piece being accepted as a finalist for Bead Dreams.
Also want to thank Matthew Nix for supplying my with the eyeballs for the necklace.

The necklace was made with a whole lot of Swarovski stones (sorry did not count) even more other type of Swarovski crystals ( bicones, rivoli drops, and I certainly did not count those), and about 80 grams of size 15 24 carat gold plated miyuki beads.

Monday, March 10, 2014

To Share, or not to Share

I have been contemplating  writing a blog post about a very sensitive question for quite a while, but  it's one of those instances when I feel like I am walking on eggshells... Never the less, I might as well go for it and try to offer my very best I got in the field of kindness and compassion approaching this  subject.

As someone who has been involved with various online beading groups, I have learned early on in my beady life that sharing is the bread and butter of all kind hearted beady folks. If we meet in person, we hug and welcome one another into our lives. We send each other beady gifts, and we help each other out in every possible way we can, even when times are hard. And that's one of the reasons I so much enjoy being part of this wonderful community.

There are many Facebook groups set up for sharing pictures, techniques, inspirations. And many of us post our work, Etsy store links to things we sell, advertise classes we teach on various social media outlets. This is a wonderful way of seeing what is being done on the frontiers of beady explorations all over the globe.

But once in a while, people ask right there, in public questions like:
Where did you get that?
How did you do that?
Can you tell me where you are buying your X, Y and Zs?

We all have these questions asked of us probably all the time. And the answers will vary a great deal of course, but let me talk about how I feel about this a little bit.

First and foremost I suspect no ill intent behind these questions at all. I don't think my beady friends across the globe are out to get my secrets so I will need to protect them  like a dragon protecting its gold.

People can approach beading in a number of ways. If you are a hobbyist, who does bead work because it's relaxing, meditative and it offers a community of like minded crazies who get equally excited about all the little shinies too, you of course will expect people  to share their sources for everything.

Now, as for me, I have in one form or another have always been selling things I make. I used to paint murals, now I bead. But it is not my only job. I sure wish it was.  I am extremely productive and have more ideas than time, but I need to work a full time job. My job is really underpaid, and I live in a very expensive city where things get more expensive every year. The money I make at my job covers my living expenses. The money I make on selling my beadwork goes back to supplies, and investments in what I consider my future in the bead business. I am happy as a clam doing this, but I need to make money off of my art one way or another.

While I don't think that I am god's gift to mankind and I should be making a lot of money by my bead art, I do think that what I am making is art, and a worthwhile pursuit.   I hope that one day I can earn at least a meager living just by doing art, teaching, and perhaps writing about it too.

I am working very hard towards these goals day after day, and part of my job as a jewelry designer and a teacher is to source exceptional materials.  So I  spend hours hunting for sources for gems, unique findings and other cool stuff that's not widely available everywhere.Bead embroidered jewelry when done with the right materials is expensive to make. If I wanted to pay myself by the hour, I would never sell anything, my work would be too expensive for anyone to afford.

And that's why I am also offering classes and thinking about other ways to earn a living on beads.But people will only want to take classes and buy my kits if I have things to offer that they can't buy all over the place. 

Of course oftentimes I use materials from fellow artists, artisans, makers of interesting things, and some of these people depend on people like me sending business their way. When that happens, I go out of my way to share all their information with the whole world even without asking.

So back to " where did you get that from".

Well, for the most part, if people ask me in private, chances are I will tell. I am no meany after all, but maybe reading this, one could consider when it's proper to ask, and when it really isn't. In private I mean as in private messages, emails, that sort of thing.

When close friends ask me, I always tell and I am happy to share. 

But  when I am being asked in public, about pieces I intend to sell or teach as a class, from now on,my kind and compassionate answer without any anger, any feeling of resentment, is going to be "I am sorry,but I can't answer that right now."

If you went into bakery that has some really fantastic cookies, and you really liked making cookies yourself, would you  go behind the counter and request the recipe from the chef?

It's kind of like that. No harm done, and even after this I will share most of my sources with just about everyone. But if I say I don't want to share everything, that should be ok too.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Behind the scenes... It's not quite as exciting as the making of M&Ms, but almost. Just kidding. Not that exciting really.

 Dear Reader, consider this tedious and long blog post an in depth " behind the scenes" special edition from moi , famous beader Kinga...
 It came to my attention that some of you peeps are under the impression I am a big name in the beady biz.

This cracks me up a bit to the point of giggle snorting, because I am still holding down an almost full time retail job as a shoe sales clerk, and while I have an excellent view into the bunions, neuromas, heel spurs- the best our country can offer indeed- I am also trying ever so hard to eventually earn enough to at least pay my rent by beading.
 I can't complain. I am on my way, and I know it! And I shall not give up till I get there.
My retail job comes with perks. Kind management and amazing coworkers. And access to retail space to use for taking pictures before and after hours. 
The back of our shoe store used to be filled with Crocs. They are mostly gone now, so the valuable space was given to Columbia gear. Comfy stuff indeed.
It just so happens that this space has an ambiance of no other: on really slow days I catch myself wondering around here among the naked bricks under the 20 foot ceiling. There is magic to this spot, and for whatever reason, in the morning the light is just perfect here.
This is where the magic happens, Dear Reader.
All the pictures I take on models, who all happen to be my coworkers, are taken here, unless we shoot outside.
 In case you are wondering about the thousands of dollars I spend on hiring models, getting a makeup artist, getting a photographer and having those pics edited, here is what happens. 
I put up this stand I got on Ebay. It is a very good stand, adjustable, and it only falls apart once in a while.
Then I hang this awesome gradient background on it by plastic clamps. Also an Ebay special. It only has a few wrinkles, really.

 Then I use such high tech methods as paperclips and shoe laces to stabilize the background. Now it just came to me that this particular paper clip is  our shoe store accountant's prized possession and I forgot to return it after the shoot. Shoot. She will miss it. I shall return  it.
 Most of the makeup in this bag comes from the Theatrical supply company. I walk there because it's only a mile away from my apartment. ( I am afraid of driving  anyways, so I might as well  get some exercise.) Some of it I bought for personal use, but I don't like wearing makeup much, so things end up lasting forever for me.
This is the view from the Croc room. Anna,our model is arriving. I faithfully documented all details.
 Anna kindly brought her prom dresses with her for this very special occasion.
Here  she is, before the makeup, with her socks on. Accompanied by various men's athletic  shoes behind her. From certain angles Anna looks quite a bit like Angelina Jolie. I am very fond of Angelina. And I love my Anna! She has been most gracious and kind by indulging my chronic photo habits. She had to work all day today, but she got up  4 hours early for me to be my model. I did not have to work today. For the first 5 years of my employment, I worked about 49 Sundays per year. Since September I decided to dedicate Sundays to making things, and - in this case- taking pictures of the things I have made.

Dear Reader, keep in mind that at best, I make jewelry I don't mind wearing. 
But I am less than mediocre and competent when it comes to taking pictures and putting makeup on.
I fumble along the way, and learn little by little.
As for the makeup, my favorite place for learning to do makeup is from the Pixiewoo ladies on youtube.
They had a tutorial for Angelina Jolie inspired makeup.I have tremendous admiration for these ladies.
The video and ALL their videos are amazing. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in  the art of makeup. But I had some questions left after viewing it repeatedly, and I only know one real life makeup artist, in person and that is Eliza George.
Eliza is truly an artist. She sees magic in people and brings it to the surface. I am lucky enough to call her a friend, and I am proud of it too.She has been wonderful sharing her secrets with me.
Armed with faux lashes, big ideas and a green prom dress, I set out to make magic.
Tadaaa! Just kidding. Although this picture has it's own magical qualities.

I did not even get to edit half of the pictures that I wanted to. There are a lot left on my computer untouched. I took about 300 photos, went through them hastily and edited the ones that were acceptable. Keep in mind, my tricks are few and far between. I can edit skin tone, make pics black and white, but I can't make limbs longer or make someone skinnier.
What I deem to be acceptable is where the jewelry and Anna BOTH seem to be at least partially in focus. (Keep in mind, my camera is a lot smarter then me,  I just poke around in the dark for the most part. Yes. I have taken these pictures on auto settings. But, and this is a big BUT. I did invest my earnings on sold jewelry into a top notch camera equipped with a macro lens and various filters. While this act buys me no credit as a photographer whatsoever, it allows me to be lazy and just let it take the good pictures I see through the viewer.)
Let me remind you Dear Reader, that Yours Truly did not grow up in the computer age. 
I did not learn any of this stuff in school. My first run in with a computer happened through my one and only year of college education, when I paid a fellow student to do my computer homework for me. He needed sketches for art class, and I needed help with informatics.
It was a match made in heaven. I did not have to look at a computer with a critical eye till I discovered Ebay... Lots happened after, but of course with making jewelry came with  the problem of selling it online and all that goes with it. So I learned the rest. As far as editing these pictures , my dear husband has given me Photoshop classes last year for my birthday. They paid of, but my skills are still very limited. Lots of room to grow.

But yeah, that's how magic is made.
Now for the purist who say all this is fine, but let's see some closeups of this stuff, here are some of those.

 Jenny Greenteeth

Anna Alford, I can't thank you enough!
And for Everyone who read this, thank you too.