Nicole Rogalski is my next guest blogger! She’s a good friend and a wonderful lampworker. Plus, she’s really good company and saved me two years ago at the Meet the Teachers event at Bead&Button. Take a look – she talks here both about lampworking and also the Beads of Courage event she just participated in!
It’s like Christmas Every Day!
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” – Confucius
I never really understood what that saying meant until I started making glass beads. From day one… I have enjoyed sitting behind a torch, music playing and melting glass and completely loosing track of time, totally immersed in what I would call a mesmerizing state of bliss. And it didn’t end there…because the anticipation of waiting for my kiln to cool down so I could see the finished beads was like waiting to open presents on Christmas Day.
It was eleven years ago I started my lampwork adventure and I was having such a great time gifting my beads to friends and family and selling off the rest that before I knew it, my love of my craft turned into a small business. Granted, there are days when my creativity is as empty as my fuel tank but those are few and far between and I cant imagine doing anything else. It really is my bliss!
I recently read online that Artmosphere Studio (a cool glass studio in Anchorage AK) and Beads of Courage (the awesome organization that provides artisans lampwork beads to children dealing with life-threatening cancer) were collaborating once again on an event called “Beads on the Trail for Beads of Courage 2017” (http://www.artmospherestudio.com/announcements/beads-on-the-trail-2017). They asked for artists to donate their beads for the Iditarod Trail 2017, a 1000 mile long sled dog race. As someone who has donated beads before to the Beads of Courage program, I quickly signed up and promised to donate 3 sets of beads with an Alaskan theme.
There are 76 mushers who will be participating and each musher will carry an artist’s bead with the remaining 4 beads going for fundraising to give strength and courage to the children who are in a race for their lives, living with cancer.
For the Alaskan theme, I choose polar bear bead faces (photo right), salmon (photo above), and spiraled lentils in a grey and blue transparent glass representing the water and skies of Alaska in winter (photo top). I hope the children like them as much as I did making them.
Nicole Rogalski, KNR Lampwork
Like what you’ve seen of her work? If you are reading this the weekend of February 17-18 2017, then Nicole has an online trunk show she’s doing on Facebook. You can check it out by going to https://www.facebook.com/groups/GlassOpenMarket/. If you’ve missed it, don’t fret… she’s also got one on March 17 & 18, April 14 & 15, May 12 & 13!
February 14, 2017
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I just returned home from a really wonderful Bead Retreat in Florida that I’ll tell you about later on in the week. Meanwhile, though, the amount of time I spent in airports and the plane was LOOOOONG. They lost a bag on the way there and all three of them on the way home (I hope they find them and it doesn’t take 3 days this time)!
But long plane trips do allow me to rework tutorials, and I finished this one somewhere over Nebraska.
JUST UPDATED – Bead Pattern Ndebele Crystal Cables Herringbone Beaded Bracelet tutorial instructions – by Hannah Rosner
Use seed beads and crystals to make your own version of this handbeaded bracelet.
This class is level 3.5 out of 5. That puts it at an Intermediate/Advanced tutorial. Students SHOULD BE ALREADY FAMILAR WITH FLAT HERRINGBONE/NDEBELE STITCH before they begin this project and should be well versed in bead weaving.
February 6, 2017
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About two decades ago I met my friend Adlai Stein. I called him a blacksmith back then, but it wasn’t until just a few years ago that he decided to leave his office job and become a blacksmith full time. As a result, I asked him to write a little bit on things he considered before he left his job and also a few things he found out along the way.
Tomorrow night you can “meet” him too. He will be featured on the History Channel Blacksmith Competition “Forged in Fire” Season 3, Episode 15 at 10/9c. http://www.history.com/shows/forged-in-fire/season-3/episode-15
By the way, he shared with me that writing a blog post for me was preferable over doing his taxes.
Things to Consider Before Quitting Your Day Job to be a Full Time Maker
(or – Quit Your Day Job! But think about it first!)
- Figure out how much money you need to make each month. Items to consider are bills, food, supplies, tables, tents, displays and studio or office rent if you don’t work from home. There are also a lot of little things that you don’t expect when getting started, like how much you have to pay for taking credit cards (2% to 3% per transaction), booth fees if you are doing shows, gas, and hotel if you are doing shows out of town. All of all of that should go into your budget.
- Have at least 3-6 months worth of income in savings to get through the first transition. It’s difficult to have enough money coming in right away. I personally took part of my 401k to pay off my truck, my credit cards with high interest and get a jump on having some in savings just to get through lean times.
- Ask yourself: Are you good enough at your craft to make a living on it? It’s something that keeps us all up at night but it’s a real fear. I was blacksmithing for over 20 years when I quit my day job. As hobbyist and part time maker, I certainly hadn’t logged in 20 years worth of hours. I blacksmithed here and there. During some hard times I had a year or 2 off when I didn’t work at all. When I worked regularly it was maybe 2 3 times a month, life happens. Working full time is a great way to get better. It took me about a year to feel comfortable enough with my work to really feel like I was getting good enough.
- Do you have enough back stock to do shows and do you have enough variety of things to appeal to your audience?
- What audience are you appealing to? What kind of things appeal to your existing clients? I’m not talking friends and family since they have a soft spot for you. I’m talking about total strangers who like your work because it strikes a chord or need with them.
- Make a plan to establish an online reputation. Post works in progress (WIPs) and finished work on your website and on social media. Have a business page on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter that is separate from your personal page. It’s ok to cross post to your personal page but potential customers like a personal touch, they usually don’t want to see your food or friends and family.
- Find good shows that you can do multiple years in a row, you may not do well the first year but people will come looking for you in that same spot at future years. Have business cards and hand them out everywhere. You are your best cheerleader – promote yourself like crazy.
- If you think you’ll have more time for your family think again. Yes, you’ll have a more flexible schedule to be able to be able to match their schedules but in order to be successful you’ll be working a whole lot more than 40 hours per week.
- You’ll have to keep yourself motivated. The upside of this is that there is no jerk boss setting deadlines for you. If working from home, try setting up a studio or private area so it feels like you are going to work. Have a routine like you did before; shower and have coffee or breakfast/lunch then go to your bench and get started. Personally, I have a shop away from my home to work from, otherwise I won’t get anything done at home. For me, home is where I relax.
- Have a good network of friends you can trust to help and vent to when things go wrong. It’s very helpful and not something we always think about.
- The big thing is don’t worry it to death. Just get off your butt and do it! You’ll never know if you are too scared to take that risk.
Adlai Stein, Blacksmith at Macabee Metals
You can catch up with Adlai at