The less cute stuff that I really love to make

Yes, I really do like to step into the world of the surreal and strangeness every now and then, all the pretty kitty cat beads put that side of me on hold, and before you think I’m complaining, I’m not, but I must, must, must remember to visit the more bonkers side sometimes : )

FaceheadfFacehead1c Facehead1bFacehead1aRed Man

beardCat

appreciation

As my few readers will have noticed, I was a bit disgruntled with the Troon craft fair on October 17th…so I thought it only right to redress the balance and say that the fair at Troon on November 14th was full of affirmation of what I do from the stalwart customers who went to the trouble of turning up on a blustery, wild, wet day. Thank you to those people who were so encouraging and complimentary, I felt so much more hopeful and inspired by the end of the day.

As usual there was only very dingy light in the hall, made worse by the dark weather, but that’s all due to be modernised in the new year, so I’m hopeful that the lighting will be changed. Someone told me that the floor is perfect for dancing, and it was a whole new picture to imagine the hall full of dancers.

Despite some progress made with new designs, I’ve had a bit of a slump in my confidence regarding bead making, as I’ve been through a period of focusing purely on pushing myself as an artist. I’m surprisingly competitive and want to stand out as a bead maker, I like being like this, but it is also quite alarming, I’m scaring myself! However, if I can push myself as far as I can as an artist, then I will have achieved something that I think is worthwhile, on a personal level. There is no room for resting on any kind of laurels, certainly not the ones I have as yet, there is far to go.
My latest beads are large, they take about two hours each, by the time I’m nearing completion of a bead, just when I need to be on top form, I’m flagging, especially if I’ve already made a couple and it’s nearing 3am. I have made some decent strides in artistry, but I need to perfect the technical aspects of the beads I want to make, I’m grateful for the new kiln programme from Sean at OffMandrel, which will anneal these big beads…I’m very excited about my new beads.
As always when I have had a bit of success, there is a sudden come down from which I must pick myself up, I can’t rely on achievement to give me some sort of peace, I’m already chasing the next thing I want to do. It’s not easy being like that, and combined with recent events, I have found myself in a familiar space which mostly involves wondering what the point of my being alive is. ‘Blimey,’ you might be thinking now, ‘here she goes again, getting heavy’ but it’s the truth for me, and as far as I know, creative people (and especially depressives like me) get like that, and while it might not be ‘normal’ to say it out loud, it’s pretty normal to think it occasionally, for a lot of people. It doesn’t mean I want to be dead (although I occasionally I hit the depths where I feel being dead would be a nice ‘rest’ – how thick is that?!!! or does it just mean I’m tired?) I’m just thinking about my place on the planet, and what’s the betting that a lot of women whose children have left home find themselves in this position, rethinking what they are actually ‘for’ now that their roles as mothers have diminished?

Even two years after leaving London (and thereby our son James at uni there) and moving to Scotland, I am not sure what I am ‘for’, what is my role and purpose in life? While I figure that out, I’m just trying to make the best of the life I have been given, one day at a time. Sometimes I am very bad at that, and need a little nudge to see the bigger picture, so, when I met people at Troon last weekend who were complimentary about my glass work, who bought some of it, and even those who were returning customers coming to get their ‘Min bead fix’, I felt affirmed, and as if there is a point to making beads, and being me. Glass beads give me a place in my world, they challenge me as an artist. I know I’m a daughter, wife, mother and friend, and being those things is important to other people (thanks guys) but first and foremost is the relationship I have with myself. After all I have to live in my head, and that takes some managing…oh to be simple and uncomplicated, and not to think too much…

Broken, Mended


I suppose it might have occurred to those of you who visit my site, that I have very few beads up for sale here. My website mainly shows what I have sold, not what I have for sale, now that is the wrong way round isn’t it? I really want to change that, however, it does mean photographing beads, photo editing, measuring beads, pricing, uploading images, writing descriptions…bead makers know this can be a time consuming task.

I promised (quite a while back now) that I’d show what chains and cords etc I have at the craft fairs, but stock changed, ideas changed, and in a way I’m glad I didn’t commit to items that weren’t exactly right. I’m still hoping to finalise my choices, what I need is to go to a bead fair and do some research, having my own stand means I don’t get to see what’s on offer elsewhere. Hopefully I’ll get to the Perth Bead Fair early this year and do some shopping around. I’m also toying with the idea of making my own silk cords, but that’s quite a job, and really, I’d rather be making beads…there are so many lovely things to do, and only so much energy.

I was very proud of myself today, as I replaced two faulty parts in my kiln without help or anyone standing over my shoulder. I was very upset when it wouldn’t heat up a few days ago, I haven’t made beads for ages, it was disappointing to be thwarted just when free time presented itself. After many phone calls, Robin at Cherryheaven
figured out which parts needed changing, posted them immediately and I got to play at kiln engineer, but I wouldn’t have had a clue without his help.

I also saw inside my oxycon for the first time when I changed a small but vital part in it. I’d much rather fiddle inside a kiln with only commonsense as my guide, than do anything with an oxycon except switch it on and off (and make beads of course). My husband took one look at it and said it looked like a bomb. I haven’t seen a real bomb, but I could see what he meant, although I’m sure he’s only seen Hollywood bombs in movies.

told you I had a few beads…

told you I had a few beads…

And here they are. Well, most of them anyway.
A delightful customer of mine told me recently that I needed to update my blog – how right she was – and I’ve been thinking about what to write about ever since. It’s actually rather nice to think that someone has been checking in to see if I’ve posted anything new – thank you!
I’ve been making jewellery lately because people want me to, and although I say I am not inspired to make jewellery, even with my own beads, I do quite like seeing the finished pieces. On consideration, I think if my mind was freed from the driving urge to melt glass into bead shapes, I would probably be more drawn to making jewellery, which is what I planned to do before I started making beads, hence the collection of beads you see below.
I have rummaged around in markets in Delhi, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Thailand, Nepal, and America (to list more countries really would be boasting) and my husband got the bug too and brought me beads direct from Afghanistan and other places that he visited without me. The thing with glass beads is that one can buy them in all sorts of exotic places, but they could all originate in China or India…it takes some rooting around to find anything new and under-exposed in today’s global village market place. I don’t claim to have made any such find, but I loved buying every single bead that I have, and would rather have thrown out clothes to make space for them in my suitcases than leave them behind.
So, I have a drawer full of beads, and those tubs hold three layers of them…what shall I do with them all? Look at those semi-precious stones too, just hanging there! Collecting fed my passion for beads for a while, and then making them from Fimo, but making glass beads is the ultimate for me, and these travel beads are just waiting for me to make decisions on their fate. I think it would be practical and sensible to sell some of them as they are, they are wasted on me. Or maybe I’ll just hold on to them a little bit longer. Eye candy is so good for the spirit. 

not again!

Hmm…I haven’t made beads for a couple of days and am having withdrawals. Today I decided to be ‘good’ before I rewarded myself with a bead session, as I really do need to get myself a regular income. I began by updating my cv, which doesn’t represent me very well at all. A dry old list of school qualifications and subsequent employment through some difficult years does not reflect who I am today, or what I can offer. I think I can offer a lot, but how to put that on paper?
In the process I managed to give myself another migraine…it was as if Clariss Cliff and Kandinsky had come to play, great colours and shapes where my vision was missing, and then the flashing patterns. Thank God the doctor prescribed tablets to kill the migraine before pain sets in, but of course I had to crash out as a result of taking them. Still, I’m up and about on the same day, which is miraculous, but I do feel as if I’ve lost hours to migraine again, and it’s quite simply due to stress. I’m sure that once I’m earning I won’t be so prone.
When I got up from my restful slumber (accompanied by Cat, as usual) I saw the
Bodyshock programme featuring 31-year-old neurofibromatosis sufferer Huang Chuncai.  It was very touching.
Have I got problems? No!
It baffles me that I need reminding of my good fortune quite so often, gratitude is so important.
Happy Day!
Min X

Migraine

I had migraine today. It sucked.
I cancelled my trip to Glasgow to go to the Art  Fair, which meant having to  tell the person I was going to meet that I couldn’t make it, I hate having to cancel plans. I know the migraine arrived uninvited and there’s nothing I can do about it, but I still felt like a flake. Having sent the message that I wouldn’t be there, I felt able to take a migraine pill and went to bed. There was no way I could take it and then go out because they make me drowsy. Probably that’s the best thing about them. I know pill popping isn’t the answer, but as I lay there contemplating the alternative, which involved sharpened six inch nails and a hammer, I thought it best to take the least messy option. One day I might take inspiration from Frida Kahlo and paint my pains.

Feeling nauseous, I fell asleep. Hurrah. A little while later I woke up because the dogs were barking at the sound of the doorbell, and I heard my husband take in a delivery for me, from Tuffnell Glass.
So, I was lying in bed, feeling horrible, knowing that there was a glass order waiting for me downstairs. Now that is torment! Also, when Tuffnell’s send out an order, there’s usually a sweetie in it somewhere. So I lay in bed wondering what kind of sweet it was, and looking forward to it only fractionally less than the glass.
I’ve got a sample pack of Northstar Precision 104 glass, I’m looking forward to seeing how that works out, I’m likely to be unable to resist giving it a little go this evening. Mind you, I’m having trouble using the computer because of mild tunnel vision, so why I think I’m going to fire up the torch, I don’t know.

I’ve been making lots of new beads, and have even been disciplined enough to make sets. I seem to have found a way to do this successfully, the main aim being to make repeats of beads in size, shape and design. Sounds so simple doesn’t it? I’ve booked a table for the Ayrshire Art & Craft Fair in Troon on 12th July, 9th August, 13th September, and 4th October, so I have to dive into The Shed of Destiny and spend hours playing, hurrah, hurrah, hurrah! People ask me if bead making is a ‘hobby’. No, it isn’t. My mum came up with a good word, she’s German, so when I translated it as ‘obsessed’ she said, ‘no, worse than that’, ‘what?’ I asked, astonished, ‘there’s something worse than being obsessed?’ we figured out that the word she was looking for is ‘possessed’, which I think is a fair description. I came to the conclusion many years ago, that when I honour my creative urges, they are my friend and I feel content, and when I ignore them and don’t go with the flow, I am their enemy and feel unhappy. Soon I hope to find work that brings in a regular income, and am quite concerned about how that might impact on my beading time. I’d hate to be rich but unable to follow my heart, I’d rather be poor and able to go into my shed and make glass beads.