Taking the proverbial leap
Some of you reading this may already know me and, for some, this is our first introduction. Either way, I am enjoying the opportunity to connect with people through this journal – to share my thoughts and experiences, my artistic struggles and breakthroughs – hopefully developing a community of like-minded jewelry enthusiasts that can share ideas, woes, techniques and laughs!
…like most of us, I looked at her wrist and said, I could make that myself!
So, a little about me. At the time of publishing this I am 46 years old. My first real experience with beads happened when I got one stuck on a lower front tooth. This was before my baby teeth fell out and was also my very first visit to the dentist! This has absolutely nothing to do with making jewelry but, in hindsight, it always felt like an omen. I started making jewelry in 1986 when my girlfriend returned from her summer camp-counseling job with a little beaded bracelet on her wrist. I can still see it. Deep green, luster glass beads that looked like half-bugle beads. They strung it on fishing line, used fishing knots for connecting, and the clasp was one of those brass connectors used in fishing – sorta looks like a safety pin? (Funny, I can name nearly every jewelry finding out there, but I have no idea what that little brass fishing part is called!) Anyhow, like most of us, I looked at her wrist and said, I could make that myself!
Again, like many of us, I went looking for a bead store and never looked back. I want to mention here that bead stores were fairly uncommon in 1986 but I found one in the art district of Cleveland’s Little Italy. I wish I could thank the owner for opening my world but that’s another story. In a nutshell, I made beaded jewelry for myself and friends, started selling it in college, opened my first business, and learned basic metalsmithing within about five years. I was hooked and there was no stopping me.
To move forward. To uncover a new and different future. To take the proverbial leap.
For eighteen years I was the co-owner of two retail bead and jewelry stores. During that time I learned and refined a myriad of jewelry-making techniques which I used to design new work and to offer classes to the local community. It was an amazing period of my life! I loved meeting new people, sharing creativity – even running the business. But after a while, it felt like I was simply showing up for work. That’s when I realized it was time for a change.
Change can be scary. Even just the thought of change can be scary! You ask yourself all kinds of questions: Why do I need this? What’s wrong with my current situation? What does my future look like? And especially: What if I’m wrong? It took me several years to finally know that I was on the right track and that changes I needed to make in my life were valid. Through much self reflection and conversations with loved ones (especially with my partner, Bob), I discovered that I needed a more individually creative endeavor. I wanted a studio in my own personal space, not as part of the shop. I wanted to continue being a part of the community, but not solely through the retail business. I wanted to keep teaching, but desired more time to develop new ideas. Ultimately, Bob and I decided to make the change. To move forward. To uncover a new and different future. To take the proverbial leap.
So here I am, writing my very first post, in the midst of training the new owners of our beloved bead and jewelry store Mana Beads. I have only just begun transforming a catch-all, unused room of our home into a jewelry studio/office and I can’t wait for the day I sit down and start creating again. That day is coming soon and this journal will be a way for me to share my struggles, successes, techniques, thoughts, and love of the creative arts with all of you reading. My immediate future is a bit up in the air right now and it’s OK that I experience fears and doubts from time to time. I’m keeping myself focused on all those things I want and need, keeping my eyes on the future that I have been envisioning. I am taking one step at a time, day by day – realizing that while the path to new endeavors might be winding and might present some difficult footing or forks in the road, it will ultimately be a worthwhile journey unveiling previously unseen beauty.