I have been contemplating about 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 it's 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.