Monday, August 19, 2013

Sharing and the Bead Community

Well, I've been a busy little bee since I last posted.

The new Bead Mavens are up and running to a great welcome...thanks so much for that. It took me 18 months to feel good enough about people again to do it but I'm so glad I did and I think the new format is going to be terrific.

I gathered six designers who write or are starting to write tutorials and I help/mentor them as much as they need to become better known and grow their businesses. Why would I help my competition you ask? Because I believe in "Pay It Forward" and the bead community as a whole. I believe if we help each other we all benefit.

The whole idea about the Bead Mavens is to share, share what we know, what we've learned, how we do things. One thing I learned while teaching was that not all tutorials/patterns are equal and you tend to have to buy blind. I had many students bring me patterns to decipher and sometimes I had a hard time trying to figure out a thread path for them....yes, it stunned me that some patterns don't have a thread path and you're expected to figure it out for yourself.   So, having the Mavens do two free tutorials for the blog in their year stint let's you, the beady reader, see just how they write and if it's a style that works for you. You get a free tutorial and they get the exposure and maybe some new customers...win/win, right?

I personally have 12 free tutorials available right now over at Bead Mavens...and 13 if you count Crystal Corners on this blog. My spirit of sharing even though this is what I do for a living.

Anyway...that's one thing underway.






I also finally finished my Doodad trio of tutorials...YAY! and my Tile & Hinge bracelet tutorial...they are listed and selling well...thank you so much :)




Yesterday after some discussion on Facebook with other designers I was encouraged to open a discussion group so we could share information and ideas about how better to protect our written works.  There is much confusion about copyright law out there and I'm not sure it's yet caught up to our high speed world.  I do know that some unethical characters are taking projects published in magazines, scanning them and putting them up on their own websites and Facebook pages. Whilst looking at one of these after being alerted for someone else's work I found one of my own tutorials, my name taken off, no credit or link given. I certainly didn't give permission for that.

I'm not sure any designer would be for this kind of thing but maybe some don't need to make money from their work so it wouldn't matter to them. 
As tutorials are my sole income it matters to me.  I stopped submitting to magazines because of this kind of thing and I know a lot of designers who have done the same, some even stopping selling online or even posting pictures of their work for fear of losing their income, opting instead to teach locally where they have control but their income is then very limited. Sad!

I've developed a very tough skin lately. I just reached a point where I said "I quit!" and I thought about that. To quit doing what I love and what gives me and my Mom financial security is crazy...so I decided to quit letting the unethical behavior of others get to me.  I'm chock full of designs...more than I can make if I never have another idea and I bead till I'm 100! 
So I move on when someone does wrong by me and I trust in Karma to take care of me as it has done in the past and I will not feel guilty if Karma has a heavy hand as it has also done.  Scares me for people but that's theirs to deal with.

In my old age...I'l be 55 this year...OMG how did THAT happen?....I have developed a full belief in myself that can't be shaken anymore. It's a great place to get to....to be able to not let the bullies in the world get to you, to feel so confident in who you are as a person that you no longer worry what people think of you....and in fact when someone does say bad things it just makes you laugh and then maybe feel a bit sorry for that person who obviously hasn't reached that good spot in life.

I'm like Sheldon Cooper I have found my spot. Such freedom. Such happiness. Such joy :)









Saturday, July 6, 2013

Saturday Morning Eye Candy

It's been a couple of weeks since I posted because there's been a lot going on behind the scenes.
I can now let you know I am bringing back the Bead Mavens, new people, new format, hopefully lots of good info and free tutorials you have told me you enjoyed so much :)  Relaunch date is August 4th when I will start introducing the new designers for the first year.  Yes, I will have new designers each year!
So many people wrote before wanting to know how they could be a Maven this time they will have a chance. More on that later.

As we have our first cool day, read under 100 degrees, we're planning to take full advantage of it and get rid of our cabin fever.

But I thought I'd bring you a little eye candy to start your day and let you know I'm still beading and writing tutorials.
This is the tutorial in progress right now...it's in the testing/editing phase.

The Ric Rac Waterlily was inspired by all the wonderful work Kate McKinnon, and the world, are doing with her book Contemporary Geometric Beadwork.
I've worked hard to just take inspiration and create something of my own whilst also keeping things in my current style of bold color with black and white.....which people keep telling me to continue....no problemo, it's my personal style :)


The 3-layer and the 4-layer versions

The regular size ones with the bangle/wall wreath in progress.


And the 3-layer sitting on top of the bangle in progress just for fun.

And once that tutorial is finished I can start on the tutorials for these babies....my Doodads :)
Cone, Corkscrew and Pyramid.


Alrighty then....now you have some good ol' bead porn to look at I'm off to the park :)  Have yourselves a great weekend!

Monday, June 17, 2013

I Lost My Virginity

Yes, I did! I am no longer a Bead & Button Show virgin.

BOY! Is that an event, the show, that is.  So many people wearing so many amazing pieces of beaded art, people wheeling craft carts, displays of the most gorgeous pieces designed to make your chin hit the carpet.

Of course, idiot me had phone and camera and took one solitary photo!
And not even of jewelry....not even a good photo!  Which only goes to show how overwhelmed I was!


There used to be a time I didn't go anywhere without a camera....methinks I need to get back into that habit!

Anyway....the show got off to a bit of a rough start for me....there was some not so pleasant stuff going on my first night that could have completely ruined my trip if I had let it.....but that seemed to be the idea. The next day my suspicions were confirmed by a few people...lol, it isn't paranoia if it's actually happening...I was met with it as soon as I walked into the showroom.  
But you can't let these things get you down and my work shone through it all and I had a brilliant time.

It is rather un-nerving to be stood in line at Starbucks and have someone suddenly scream your name, and to have people wanting to have their picture taken with you.  Freakish...lol!   Also an incredibly rewarding feeling that my designs are giving people joy. I feel so lucky to be able to make a living from doing something that brings me joy and then to know for sure, in my face, that my work is appreciated.  

I am now able to put so many faces/voices/laughs to the names on my Facebook friends list and include some people as firm real life friends. I met some of the most amazing designers...the icons of beading and you could have picked me up off the floor when they knew my work....and even 'admired' or 'loved' it!  

On the health front I did extremely well at the show, I had lots of energy and was literally running around at some points....barefoot jogging through the skywalks. The food issue was a little troublesome at first...I swear if someone else had suggested a gluten free soup and salad I would have rammed it.  My first day of GF food while travelling sucked however I got myself over to Millertime and found GF beer and bunless burgers...yay!
I did chance the fries....and they were a bit of a problem....next day I asked if they used the same oil for fries as he chicken nuggets and sure enough they do....bread crumb cross contamination!   So, I felt the effects of cross contamination each day but nothing that ruined anything.  Story got a little different when I got home and a week later I'm still recovering from the horrible effects of gluten build-up.  But...it shall pass!



The whole trip made me do a lot of soul searching and thinking. Yesterday I posted pics of my art on Facebook, something I tend to keep hidden because that was what I was taught to do.  I learned to hide my work/talent because a few people get all pissy about it...and sometimes take their frustrations out on my work by ruining it or stealing it. My first year's work at college at the end of year display was splashed with paint and every piece ruined. My second year someone went into the pottery studio and smashed a set of figurines I'd worked all year on.  It has been explained to me, sometimes years later by the people who did these things that they didn't like that I was always top of my classes. *sigh*

So I've decided to not hide in a corner anymore, there will always be the haters who try to intimidate you out of existence and they can only do that if we let them.  I have some interesting things coming up, some new things, some reincarnated things. 
Watch this space :)

So....a big thank you to all the wonderful people I met at B&B with a special thank you to Shelley Gross, Suzanne Golden, Jill and June Wiseman, Jennifer Erlichs, Leora Mattila, Mandie Ainsworth, Amy Royster, Perry Bookstein, Kelly Stevenson, Lisa Kan and a myriad of others.  Also a big thank you to the not so nice bunch as you gave me the push I needed to get out of the corner.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

PDF Tutorials....All Profit...Right?

Having just answered another inquiry about why I don't write tutorials for certain things I thought I'd explain the cost issues of writing a tutorial.
I had a conversation with the wonderful Mr. Patrick Duggan on this subject just last week.....a little brain picking as he moves into the world of tutorial writing.


OK....so, you want to write a tutorial.

First you need to design it, so that might take a day or two or a week or two for this example let's say it's a 40 hour week.
Design is getting the idea, developing it, beading it, making any changes and tweaks.  Designers in the 'real' world make good money so you you'll want to charge your time accordingly...at least $15 an hour.
So 40 x $15 = $600
Plus the costs of materials...including all samples, most designers make at least two and often three samples.
Say this piece isn't too spendy and costs $20 per sample.
Two at $20 = $40

Running total = $640

Next up is writing the tutorial so you better have your illustration/ photographic skills ready.

As I illustrate I'll price on that.
Graphic designers/illustrators make good money...I know I used to be one, and I know that if I farmed this out it would actually cost me hundreds if not thousands for this service.  But let's go with the $15 an hour.

Two days of illustrating, two days of writing, tweaking, photographing and editing. That's 4 x 8 hours @ $15 an hour = $480

Running total $1120
And this doesn't include overheads.

So....how much does it sell for.....price too high and it won't sell, price too low and you'll have to sell a LOT more.....for this amount of work I'd be looking at a $20 dollar price tag.

So....the first two tutorials I sell will pay for the supplies and I have to sell 56 tutorials before I'm paid for the work.  And that can take a week or a year or more.

If you work a regular job, you work for a couple of weeks or a month and get paid...and many times you can't wait for payday to get here. You work and you know you will be paid for that work....not in this business, the reality is you may have to wait 5 years to be fully compensated for a piece.
When you release a new design you hope and you better have a lot of patience, and belief in yourself and your design...because lack of sales is tough on the ego as well as the bank account.

Some designs don't make it to tutorial simply because when tested, photos posted on Facebook, they get a cool response which doesn't bode well for sales.  Sometimes that just requires a change of palette but it does mean back to the drawing board.


Some designs like the one I was asked about this morning, my Armadillo Blossom purse, will never be tutorials because they would take way too long to write and not many people would want to put THAT amount of work into something let alone the $80 the tutorial would have to cost.

For me this is a business, my sole income and when you have no financial back-up (husband, pension, lottery winnings) you have to step back a little from the artistic and let the business side come to the fore.

Some designs are just not financially viable no matter how much you and everyone else likes them.



Thursday, May 2, 2013

Unregulated Beads or Why I Don't Design with Gemstones

Conformity is what I'm talking about.
Uniform sizes.
Holes in the right damn place!

Yes....I've been struggling.
Bright little spark that I can be, I decided to work with gemstones...one of those "What were you thinking?" moments after the work was half way done.

Ok...this is the deal:


I designed my Celtic Knot necklace while I was ill last year and am only now getting around to writing the tutorial and of course I needed a refresher on it not to mention a piece to test the tutorial. I made the first Turquoise Howlite version from some beads I picked up at a bead show.
And right there is a what was I thinking moment....as a designer who sells a lot internationally I have to use beads that can be easily found or offer 
up a supplier or carry the special beads myself.

So for my second version I found that Artbeads carried the shape and size of gemstone I needed albeit in limited colors....I bought the three they had.
Well....I've been working with them this week and so I could test the tutorial I illustrated the major components before I began beading.

Imagine my horror when it just didn't work.
The holes in the Coral Quartz are about 1mm higher into the stone than with the Howlite.  1mm is not much, a teensy measure but OMG!
It can totally mess with your design.

The result is I've putzed around for a couple of days this week, procrastinated like crazy, been very unproductive and then, of course, guilty for the lack of productivity.

Finally, yesterday, I sat down to work on the 'fix'.
I realized I would have to create a 'flexible' fix because who knows where the holes in you're gemstones are going to be?
The result is good, you probably can't tell the difference....yeah, part of that is due to the colorway change...but had I started with the Coral Quartz this is exactly what I would have done in the first place and the 'fix' would have been just easy and obvious.

My blog is about the trials and tribulations of this business and the problem with holes is definitely one of them.....we all know about the second blocked hole in a super duo bead....if you hear a beader scream these days that's probably why.

Anyway....problem solved.
I'll have to do some more illustrations on the 'fix' but I'd rather do that than have to go through tweaking everything.  On Monday I thought this one was going super fast and easy and would be in my store this week.....oh, how the Powers That Be like to play with me!

And it's always when I'm chomping at the bit to move onto the next project...which is the patterned version of the new Padlock Pendant.


I need to take some new shots with it's rope, a 36" half twist herringbone.
I need so many more hours in the day....especially when a 1mm difference  can take me down!

Oh....and I just opened a Twitter account.
So, do a search for my name and follow me, you never know what you might get to know.  I plan on using Twitter while I'm at the Bead & Button Show so that if I'm sitting beading and someone wants to join me they'll be able to find me.  I plan on doing a lot of my corrugated peyote while I'm there and it's the perfect time to demo the technique....and with the long term project I'm working on you might want to take advantage :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

What's The Deal About Teaching?

As it came up again yesterday I thought today I would post my feelings about teaching....this is why I don't care to teach anymore and why I don't permit teaching of my designs.  Your opinion may differ.

After teaching for a few years and quitting teaching a couple of times due to the demands of the stores I taught in and frankly a group of beaders who seemed to think if they paid $10 for a class it meant I would drive to their house anytime they wished to give them extra private tuition. And, no, I am not kidding.

As the years have past (barely five now) I have learned a lot about myself. I am a designer/inventor.  It's my love, my drive.
Teaching is very time consuming and while I can enjoy teaching a class of advanced beaders someone asking me "What is peyote stitch?" in a class stresses me to panic levels.  I used to have the patience to teach basic stitches but it flew away.



So, designing, illustrating and writing tutorials is what I do now.
Will I ever teach again, never say never, but any student signing up would have to know the stitches in the project or they'd just get handed a basic stitch sheet, some beads and be told to practice...no refunds...lol! 

Ok...teaching of my designs.
Quite simply I don't allow it...now I'm told I can't stop someone as long as they are using an authentic tutorial, ie one purchased from me or they have their own copy of a magazine project by me.  
I will argue this point as I don't believe teaching someone else's work is "Fair Use" as it means someone else is making money from my hard work and if I decide to teach then they're in direct competition with me. Or should I sell a license to teach, once again I'd be losing money.  

Whether it's legal or not its highly unethical to use someone else's work to make your money especially when it's against the wishes of the designer.
If you are teaching someone else's designs without their permission you have to ask yourself this question:
"Why don't I design my own projects, write my own tutorials  and teach them?"
If your answer is "I don't have the talent" or "It takes too much time" or "I don't have the name to get me students" or "I won't make enough to pay for all the time it would take to do that"

Then you need to go to the mirror and take a good, honest look at yourself, that is one very unethical person you're seeing....at best!

Next....why don't I sell a license for someone to teach my designs?
This one is a matter of trust. I don't trust people, I have many, many reasons not to trust people.  I have people say, "But you know me" and I have to say....I knew my father too, didn't stop him from taking from me.  And I won't go into the number of 'friends' that have taken from me.

Trust is important when it comes to allowing someone to teach your work.
#1 you have to trust that they know the design well enough to be able to teach it.
#2 You have to trust that they do supply every student with a tutorial so they can finish the project.
#3 you have to trust them with your tutorial...that they won't go print off as many copies as they like, and when someone says..."I don't have time for the class can I buy the pattern" that they say "No, I'm not permitted to do that you can buy it directly from the designer, here's their shop info" and not just sell it them and put the money in their pocket.

That's a lot of trust.

I did come up with the idea to do a "Teachers" workshop, where I would teach three or four designs that the students would be authorized to teach after the workshop.  That seemed like a practical solution, I'd be able to look into the eyes of the person I'd be trusting with my designs and make sure they knew all the ins and out of the designs.  However, when I mentioned this on Facebook I was met with a lot of people telling me how they would prefer I did it...ie, no workshop, no restrictions, they could choose what designs they wanted. There was even mention of forming a committee to decide how I would run my business.....er, no!
So, that idea went into the trash can.

So as it stands at this moment no one has my permission to teach my designs.

One thing I am working on....bead store adoption....because it isn't easy running a bead store, especially a bricks and mortar one.
I have already started working with an online store, Beadstalkers.com.
I met Sherry who runs it and we got along great, discovered we approached business the same way and when she became sole owner of Beadstalkers I knew I wanted to offer as much support as I could.
I do list Beadstalkers as a bead supplier in my tutorials when using the beads Sherry carries and she in turn will stock specific colors/beads I use....win/win.
When Sherry showed me her bracelet design which became "Pyramids of Giza" I knew another way I could help, so I am now putting together a tutorial a month of her designs which she offers free with bead purchase or for sale.




For my bricks and mortar store, I chose Bead Artistry, which is just a couple of blocks away, I am in process of going through my designs to see which I think would work as classes....and then Bead Artistry will choose a few that they want to teach, and I'll make sure they know all the ins and outs.

I just handed in a Clasp tutorial to be taught by someone else at the bead society too....and sometimes I am willing to do things like that for bead societies.

I do think it's important for us to support each other in the beading community, yesterday I heard of another store closure and that made me sad.
As a designer I do have to make a living from my work and I do feel that by permitting people to sell what they make from my tutorials I am helping them make an income....but I draw the line at people teaching my designs and I hope people respect that. The ethical will. The unethical won't. Just like having laws, the decent respect and abide by them, the criminals don't.

Eventually the law will catch up, I do believe that, but what is a law?
Something a group decides is a rule to be followed or be punished....so really, if the bead designers could agree and get together on this we could make law. It only takes one case in our favor to set a precedent.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sunday Morning Latte

Yesterday saw me do one of my reward thingies, I'd been meeting and passing my goals so the fund for a new espresso system had become fully charged...YAY!

I'm not a huge coffee drinker but I do have to have mu morning latte. Times past I would stop at Starbucks at 6am before getting on the freeway to drive from Santa Monica to Disneyland for work.  It's my treasured morning ritual.
Of course, even at one a day, it's not an inexpensive one and being a frugal Yorkshire lass investing in a machine seemed like a great idea.

When my first espresso machine literally blew up, spewing parts across the kitchen, it had saved me a few thousand dollars during it's life. I actually sat down and figured that out...ok, so it was to justify buying a new one on a tight budget.   Of course that one eventually died too and it was during the dark days when I couldn't afford a new one.  So, I picked one of those non-pump ones up at Big Lots for $10 and have been making do.

In January I started saving for a new one.  When Starbucks came out with their Verissimo I was excited....and when they were going to be demoing it just down the street I was there. But all it netted me was disappointment, did not care for it at all...got better flavor from my $10 one.
I was window shopping in Williams Sonoma when I saw the Nespresso machines and thought the Pixie was just so dang cute and neat but couldn't imagine getting a decent espresso from it.  The guy that came over to help me asked if I would like to try it...well, ok.
I was very surprised at the espresso he pulled...it was good, really good.
Then he showed me the Aeroccino which I truly wasn't interested in but that blew me away too.
So now I knew what I was saving for.


When we went to Williams Sonoma yesterday while I was showing Mom
the gal came and demoed the machine for us and even Mom was impressed, not by the coffee, she's not a fan, but by how dang cute it was.
When the gal told me they had one on sale because the color was being discontinued and that color was lime green....that was it. SOLD!

It works with pods, which if you join the club aren't too expensive but frugal little me did find some refillable pods I can put my own coffee in and Amazon are shipping them out to me today :)

All well and good, you say...happy for you, you say...but gee wish I had something nice, you say.
Ok....but you have to keep it a secret, this is for people who read my blog only.
All this week Sunday, 4/21 to Saturday 4/27 when you buy one tutorial I'll let you choose another of equal or lesser value for free.
Here are the rules.....you have to leave a comment on this post, and in the "notes to seller" when you order type
SUNDAYSECRET
along with your choice of freebie :)

Just remember...it's a secret....you can tell people...."Mikki wrote a great blog post" but you can't tell them about the secret....ok? Cool!

Have fun...I'll be sipping on a latte :)