30 April 2010

End of Term Mania

Well, the end is nigh. the end of the session, that is.  And as usual, I can't get motivated.  So instead, I started working on a beading project!  Cuz, you know, I don't have ENOUGH work, let's make more! I mentioned in my last post that I had finished the piece for the Art with Heart contest, but the piece I ultimately created wasn't AT ALL what I had originally planned.  Normally, I'm okay with that.  But this time, the idea of the original design just will not leave my head! The original plan was to have the cab-and-filigree focal hanging from a beaded arrow-shaped bib-type necklace thingy... I can see it in my head, I promise. And it was awesome!  But as I worked on that piece, as will often happen, I just kept changing my mind and redesigning. So I ended up with the crazy cuff-type bracelet instead (speaking of that piece, I still need to name it.  I suck at names...)

So, this idea is stuck in my head, and I'm trying to realize it in actual beads.  I've started with a square stitch, done in sections to make it good and tight.  It's about 4 inches long, and every few rows, I'm decreasing it by a few beads.  The kinda fun part about this one, though, for me, is that I'm literally using every color seed bead in size 11 that I have.  All of them.  Even the black.  Initially, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it, but the more I play with it, the cooler it looks. Now, to consider the focal.  I have a vague idea that I'd like to play with the skulls (I have a lot of skull beads.  I love them... apparently, it's kinda my thing...), but I really want to do all the shades of pink with my little wooden skulls.  Another project I can see in my mind, and let me tell ya, it looks cool.  But what to do with this one?  Since I'm totally not sure, and I have a feeling this will be an ongoing, evolving project, I'll just have to keep pondering. In the meantime, I have a request for a lanyard I need to ponder, and several sets of essays and whatnot to grade over the next week.  Oh, and lets not forget getting ready for summer session! oi....


29 April 2010

Pricing myself...

Yeah, yeah, I know what some of you are thinking... that's NOT what I'm talking about... What I AM talking about is pricing my work. Whether it's my work as a resume writer, my work as an employee and professor, or my work as an artisan, I have trouble pricing myself.

For example: It took me, quite literally, years to figure out what I should charge for my resume services.  I knew what the company I used to work for charged (thousands....) and I knew I was good at my work, but what to charge?  And more importantly, what will people pay? I finally hammered out a price list that I feel comfortable with, and I have it in writing on my resume business cards. Unfortunately, I still have trouble sticking to it.

Another "pricing" issue I have when it comes to myself is when I'm looking for a job... you know, that part in the interview where they ask the dreaded, "well, how much are you looking to be paid" question? I hate that part. I suck at that part.  Thankfully, in academia, that's a moot point, as it pretty much depends on what level of education you hold.

And finally, the problem I'm having most often lately, is deciding how much to charge for a certain piece.  For example, earrings.  I love to make earrings, because for the most part, it's an immediate gratification kind of a craft. Unlike bead weaving, where the piece takes shape over several days sometimes, I can make a nice pair of earrings in about 15 minutes to an hour, usually.  And I think I make some pretty kick-ass earrings.  But what to charge for something that is, to me, an easy craft? Yes, there are the purely logical concerns--how much did I pay for the supplies, etc., but that doesn't reflect the skill required to put the piece together, or to imagine how this bead will look with that chain and that focal and toss it all together in the melting pot of my brain. That's where I begin to have issues.  After I figure out the purely logical stuff--you know, in order to make a profit, I have to charge at least x amount of dollars to cover the cost of the piece, what do I then charge for my time and skill? That's my concern...

Consider, I don't want to overprice a piece, because then it will never sell, and no one will ever see the work, and I would ultimately rob myself of any other sales.  But at the same time, I don't want to underprice a piece, making it seem, in the eyes of the consumer, to be "cheap." How does one hit on the happy medium? Well, so far, I've relied on my best friend and her husband, basically asking questions like "How much would you pay for this?" For earrings, I've settled on a fairly simple stratagem of starting with a base of $10, and then, depending on how complicated and involved a piece is, going up from there.  But what about necklaces?  And bracelets other than the elastic variety? Those pieces are more time-consuming to make, and to plan.  And bead-weaving?

I have a bracelet I recently made for the charity beading contest Art with Heart over at the Beads-n-Blessings blog... it's a rather fussy and involved affair of woven Toho's and delicas (I think I love delicas) with bugles and fringe and a cab and filigree focal (pics later, still need John at Paparazzi Entertainment to take 'em for me...).  It's a beautiful bracelet (although Amy did say it was over-the-top 80s but awesome) and I don't think I'll sell it, simple because I don't really want to part with it just now.  Several weeks worth of work and planning went into it's creation.  And although I'm not planning to sell that piece, several people have asked "how much?" Which is really what brought me to finally writing this article.  I created the piece mainly to see if I could, and because I enjoyed it. How do I put a price on that enjoyment?

So, as I continue to struggle with this whole concept of pricing, while I also devoutly wish someone would just come do it for me, I'm trying to keep track of the things I can control easily--like the cost of supplies (got all my receipts in a file folder. whoo-hoo! LOL) In the meantime, I'm just going to continue enjoying beading and learning new techniques, and worry about the rest of it later.


23 April 2010

wowzers... I feel... lacking...

Okay, not really, but wow... See, I consider myself very creative, very crafty, and something of an artist.  But, I can't draw. To save my life... I cannot draw. Wait, I take that back.  I'm really REALLY good at stick figures.  You want a stick figure? I'm your girl... I'm an artist when it comes to working with paper, or beads.  and occasionally embroidery (well, cross stitch, but really, there I'm just following the pattern...) I always wished I could draw, though.  I wanted to be a great painter when I was a kid.

So, you may be wondering, why do I feel lacking now? What happened?  Well, I just watched this video, over at The Beader's Muse

That's Cynthia Thornton, designer at Green Girl Studios, talking about inspiration and her book Enchanted Adornments. I love that she shows us her sketchbooks, because so often, those are a very private thing for a lot of creative people.  Here's the problem for me: I WANNA DRAW LIKE THAT!!!!!!!!! whine!!!!!!!!!  Okay, sorry, done whining... But wowzers!  Okay, I a craft ideas, in which I "sketch." But my sketching is to Thornton's sketching what hot dogs are to Kobe beef (don't get me wrong, I like hot dogs...) Thornton, besides being an accomplished jewelry designer, is a totally kick-ass artist.  I'm not exaggerating when I say I would probably buy her sketchbooks if she published them.  They're beautiful. In fact, I just spent a bit of time playing on her website--beautiful work!

So yeah, I feel lacking... But hey! At least I feel lacking with someone who's a very talented artist! So I got that going for me! LOL!


21 April 2010

Facebook and Midsummer Night's Dream....

So, I'm sitting here in class, and my students are watching A Midsummer Night's Dream... I love the play-viewing week, because I get so much done. usually.... Today, not so much....

See, I think the problem is general grading fatigue, and the access to a laptop, where, I admit, I usually have Facebook open on a tab.  And my friends are wonderful, and intriguing, and awesome, and.... really, I don't have enough positive adjectives to describe... But that's almost the problem--I have wonderful friends who post really nifty stuff that I want to investigate, and for some reason, I cannot focus on the grading I need to do (okay, so also, I'm sitting here in semi-darkness.  You ever tried to read mediocre handwriting in the dark? Not fun...)

But that brings me to another thought.  I love Facebook.  I have a lot of friends and colleagues who have a love-hate relationship with Facebook, and I've often wondered why.  For my colleagues, I know that it has a lot to do with how much time our students "waste" on the site, especially when they're in the classroom (I teach in several computer labs) supposedly listening to us, participating in the course discussion, or otherwise engaged in learning. For my friends who aren't also colleagues, though, I'm not really sure.  But again, I think it falls back to time "wasting".  Cuz, yeah, Facebook can be a huge timesuck.  Think about it--we have all those great games (yes, I like and play the Zynga games... my Farm is cute!), we can send silly gifts (my favorites of all of them remain the "send-a-sperm" that were making the rounds when I first got onto Facebook), and we can check in with ALL of our FB friends.  But that last, that's the real reason I love love LOVE Facebook! See, I had a HUGE group of friends in highschool, and then, as tends to happen, we all lost touch.  Well, most of us.  I've discovered small pockets kept in touch (like my 2 best friends and me).  Since we've all gotten on Facebook, though, we've reconnected, and we're reforging those relationships we had momentarily lost over the last 16 (gasp!) years.  We're having picnics, Ikea trips, we're meeting new friends through our old friends, and we're supporting each other in our endeavours.  I think we're becoming better friends for the long separation, even though most of us aren't in even the same state anymore. So, I love Facebook.  I love to get up in the morning and see what new things my wonderful friends have thought of (it helps that my "morning" is about noon-ish in the real world.

Okay, back to reading poetry based on "Hazel tells Laverne." Yes, I'm mean.  I make them write the occasional poem.  I'm happy to say, they actually do really well with it!


20 April 2010

Why a blog?

So, I've told a couple of people I've started a blog. Most are enthusiastic (although my mom's comment of "for people to read?" cracked me up. her emphasis was on the "people" part...) but the question I keep getting asked is "what's it for?"

Honestly, I hadn't really thought that far ahead, and if I had, I think it was just for me. Like I said, I'm an English teacher, and so I tend to both read and write profusely.But, I don't just want my blog to be about teaching.  Yes, I'm a teacher, but I'm not just a teacher.  Likewise, I make jewelry... but I don't want my blog to be just about jewelry... So I guess, if I must categorize myself (although, really, I defy categorization...) I would say that my blog is about me.  About my interests.  About the ins and outs of my life (but not necessarily the daily minutiae of that life).  Some things I hope to discuss is the difficulty I have in pricing myself, the oddities of discussing plagiarism in college classes, what I want... but that's just the tip of the iceberg.  There's so much out there that's interesting to me, and there's so many things I ponder.  So I guess this blog is about my ponderings...

Should be fun, huh? :D

19 April 2010

Use the Muse IV & a sneak peek of the piece I created

So I entered this contest a few months ago, called "Use the Muse," created by Scarlet Lanson at "The Beader's Muse" and sponsored by one of the most awesome beading sites I've found, Artbeads. The premise is that you receive a kit full of sheer awesomeness in the bead realm, and this very cool Muse piece, but you can't reveal what the muse is until all is said and done...

Still something of a novice beader, I nevertheless thought it would be fun to try.

[caption id="attachment_18" align="alignnone" width="169" caption="The detail of the sectional spiral rope. "][/caption]

So there it is.  A sneak peek.  Now, having never woven beads at all, I decided to try my hand at spiral rope (I've never even made a daisy chain...).  I created what I'm calling a sectional spiral rope, to try to incorporate some of the kit beads, and a few beads I had on hand already, and give it a bit more interest. I have to say, I'm rather proud of this piece, and I had a blast making it. So much so, I've entered another contest, I'm learning more beading stitches (I really like square stitch and African Helix), and I can't wait for Use the Muse V...



Well, the Muse was revealed last week, along with the winners. As expected, I didn't win, but then, that's not why I participated either. So, no foul. The Gallery of all the designs can be found here. I admit, I'm rather in awe of the company in which I find myself with this contest.   This group of artisans is phenomenal in their ability to see the possibilities in the muse piece.  Here are some full pics of my piece:

[caption id="attachment_42" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="A Leaf Falls"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_43" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Detail on the muse, the drops, and the beaded flower focal."][/caption]

I really love this piece. It's my first asymmetrical piece, and my first piece really incorporating a variety of styles...

Take a look at the gallery, and have a great day!  ~RLW

The random thoughts of a random professor...

Hello all!  So, I've finally done it.  I started a blog.  We'll see how I do, I guess.  So, if you know me, you'll know all this stuff I'm about to tell you; if not, then hey, I think you should know all this stuff I'm about to tell you.  Just sayin... :D   I teach, I read, I craft, I love my friends and family, I torture college students with Shakespeare, I drive a way old Ford Explorer, I have 2 monster kitties that keep me on my toes, I have one beautiful niece and 5 gorgeous nephews, and I love my life.  Mostly.

So why a blog?  Well, I teach English, I write constantly, and thought it was about time to try getting some of those thoughts that keep jumbling about in my head on "paper" in a coherent form.  I'm trying to start an online jewelry business, and as I learn more, I'm finding I want to discuss those techniques, and what I'm finding to work well, and where I'm finding I need more assistance.

That's enough to be going on with, I think.  I'll post more later, on the many varied interests I have... Enjoy!