Right now my children think New Hampshire is heaven on earth.  They love snow as much as I do.  And boy do we have snow.  Not only have they had two snow days off from school, but they go to schools that encourage playing outside at recess.

In the past, my children went to schools that had indoor recess when there was snow on the ground.  As a New England native, I couldn’t imagine the reasoning.  I clearly remember the fun of a snowy playground.  If you live in an area that gets snow in the winter why shouldn’t you enjoy it?

Fortunately my children will always think the same thing.  Now that we live in New Hampshire, they get to frolic in the snow every single winter day.  I don’t have the luxury of playing in the snow all day, but I do get to look out my windows.  Isn’t it beautiful? 

 

Susan

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On Flaming Hot I asked glass artists how they measure their businesses success and stay focused.  I’m sure it is no surprise I sit down and write out my goals and objectives each year. I’m a list person, I can’t help it.

I split my goals into three categories.  The first is financial.  I have a monthly sales number I try to meet.  The second is educational.  I determine the glass techniques I wish to master and how I’m going to make it happen.  

My third category is all about my feel good factor.  I’m not sure of the word to use.  I focus on helping other lampworkers get started,  new art business people work more efficiently, educating the public about glass and art businesses and get my name out there in the process.  I suppose you could call it networking with a humanitarian focus.

I do find pleasure in setting goals and meeting them.  They keep me on track and feeling productive. I don’t get a weekly paycheck or a glowing evaluation from my boss, but I can check things off my list.

Do you ever feel like you get it done this time of year?  I try, I really do.  I start off with a list, and I make sub lists and then, I seem to lose one.  I spend precious time looking for it only to have to remake the list.  I asked beadmakers on Flaming Hot to answer how they get it done in their business.

Fortunatley I’m  very organized about running my business.  I have a ritual Sunday night of making my weekly list of things to get done.  In addition I keep myself on track by keeping a daily schedule.  Check emails, print invoices, pack up boxes and ship packages are the first things I do each morning.  When my paperwork chores are done I can torch.  While I can’t always create on demand, I do have a check list of design types I try to work on each week.  I focus on getting my orders completed at the beginning of the week and let the time left be free for whatever comes to mind.  It keeps the little things from slipping through the cracks.  Finally, during homework time I get my internet work done.  I list auctions, edit pictures and most importantly, write blog entries.

The internet has really helped many of us sell our hand crafted work.  No matter where you live, chances are you can sell in a global marketplace.  Pretty neat when you think about it.  Because for years the saying “Location, location, location” was everything when it came to a successful storefront business. 

Now that the ability to access prime location is not a huge hurdle, other things become issues.  How do I get people to see my auctions and my site?  I can’t see those buyers walking down the street, but I know they are out there wandering the internet. 

But when should one list? I think each seller has a theory and it is the topic for Flaming Hot’s blog it this week.  When is the best time to list auctions in order to maximize views? 

When I first started selling I was convinced I needed to be as regular as clockwork.  I created a must follow schedule of listing Tuesdays and Thursdays; day slots for justbeads and night slots for ebay.  If I had extra sets I would add another weekday or weeknight auction. 

A year or so later I added a newsletter to my marketing efforts.  I began to sell from my site and announce new strands.  I was again convinced I needed a strict schedule of every week.  I think you are beginning to see where this is going, right? 

Even more recently I added Etsy to my auction sales sites.  Over there the suggestion is to list as often as possible one auction at a time.  What?!  any old time?  Oh my, but what about a schedule?  Within days I was enjoying just listing willy nilly.  How completely free-spirited and wild I felt.  I was so liberated I sent my newsletter out on a completely random day.  Crazy, I know.  I put up a couple Saturday auctions on one of the sites.  What was I thinking? 

Now before you get too worried, I still have to fill my Tuesday and Thursday slots to maintain a tiny slice of order.  But don’t be surprised to see other auctions listed on any old day of the week.  And my newsletter?  I just might surprise you with a 2am version.    My new motto is location, location, and list any darn time you want.  

I love color.  I still find a box of crayola crayons exciting and irresistible.  While I am waiting for my kiln to heat up, I often just browse my selection of colored glass rods.  They are organized by system and color.  I pull out a few shades and mix and match the combinations until I have a few ready to be melted.

But, what happens when I don’t have the exact shade I want?  I want to create the color and start to think in terms of what I would need to create the tone.  As anyone who has ever mixed glass knows, it is time consuming and experimental.  More often than not you get something you didn’t plan on.  I do it and usually enjoy the results.   But…..  I have this fantasy. 

“I am standing before a huge furnace where I can heat up base glass colors in a pot.  I grab a little of this and a little of that.  I mix them together to see what I have.  I need a bit more yellow…. no, that’s not it, maybe a touch of red.  Oh, that looks yummy.  Let me pour it out into rods and see what I have.  Awesome!  But next time I think I’ll add a bit more blue.” 

Wouldn’t that be fun?  I am envious of the people at Bullseye Glass.  They make new colors almost every month and sell them to color obsessed bead makers like me.  Maybe they have an opening?  

When it comes to idolizing people I’m not sure I do.  When it comes to idolizing people’s work, I certainly do.  Numerous glass artists inspire me, intrigue me and astound me.

At the beginning of my glass journey I was mesmerized by Jill Symons.  I see her beads as being beauty in simplicity.  She allows one to look into the glass, watch it shine, shimmer and reflect light without many distractions.  The sheer joy of a single color is allowed to stand proud in Jill’s beads.

As I improved and discovered how glass works, I became enamored with technical genius.  Japanese bead artist Emiko Sawamoto has such precision in her work.  Complex cane, murrini and an eye for detail are all things I have grown to appreciate. If I ever feel I have arrived and have little to learn, I’m sure one day attempting these techniques would bring me to a my knees.

Currently I admire and am inspired by the work of Leah Fairbanks.  It is no surprise I love her florals.  Her beads include fine metals, gemstones and colors that keep me wanting more.  One day I do wish to make beads as beautiful as hers.

I marvel at the bead maker who can grab a technique and have it in one class.  I can’t.  I can take a piece of the technique and the concept of the idea but, it takes me weeks to process and perfect it.  I will never be a class junkie.  I need too much time after the class to figure out what I learned.

   

I love good old fashioned practice.  Of course, I am a bit obsessive.  I can take a task and repeat it over and over to the point of near perfection. Some may call it perfection, but anyone who can obsess a detail, knows I don’t.  I embrace this personality trait and use it to my advantage.

   

I suppose this is why I am primarily a set maker.  I want to make 8 or so of the same bead, each one matching the other and fine tuning a skill.  For the first few years of bead making I built on basic skills and added new ones as I could.  My first florals were nothing more than petals.  They have progressed to a more complex version as I master the pieces along the way.

  

I have reached a point where my new bead designs may incorporate one new skill with a collection of ones I own.  I see my learning style as building blocks.  I add to my base of skills and keep climbing higher.

   

I realize my approach is not for everyone.  I’m sure there are bead makers who cannot fathom the number of florals I have made.  Yet, I sit at the torch and more often than not I feel it is going to be a floral day.  I love to make floral beads.   Fortunately, my customers love them too.