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.