Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Bead honors bestowed

"Forget what happened yesterday, I know that better things are on the way."

As I promised, here's a photo of the beads that were in the kiln when I last posted. I was happy with them. Especially the middle one. More about that later. (But isn't that teal blue killer?!)

And while thinking about this topic I realized that much of what I post about beadmaking is about my creativity challenges or my missing mojo. I don't post enough about the good things.

For example, last week I was recognized as one of 30 selected bead artists to be included in the 2013 Inaugural Year Beads of Courage Bead Artist Hall of Fame. I was vaguely aware through Facebook posts that this honor was going to be bestowed during the annual Best Bead Show in Tucson, but the notion that I would be a recipient wasn't even the remotest thought in my mind.

The email letting me know about my selection had this to say:

Your contributions to date including bead donations, event support, financial contributions, and your executive leadership in helping to advance the mission of Beads of Courage, Inc. were all considered in light of this recognition. You were nominated by your peers for this honor.

That last sentence really touched me, because one of the things I grapple with constantly is whether or not I am liked in the lampwork community or if most members of said community are even aware of my existence. This despite the fact that I am fond of saying that what other people think of me is none of my business. And at the bottom line, I do believe this to be true. Yet all my life I have sought acceptance and found it elusive and allowed that exclusion, real or imagined, to hurt me.

I hate to admit it, but to some degree I measure self worth by how many "Likes" I get on Facebook for any photo, status or bead that I post. I compare myself to others whose Facebook post get dozens of comments. I notice that quite a few of the people whose posts I comment on have never once commented or "Liked" anything I've ever posted. I tell myself that some people have huge egos and post about their activities compulsively while possibly never bothering to read anyone else's posts. I rationalize. I justify. I speculate. I spin.

But I don't toot my own horn much. Some of the other Beads of Courage Hall of Famers posted on Facebook about being chosen for the honor. I secretly hoped someone would post the entire list of honorees, but it feels, I don't know, immodest to mention it myself. Not to mention that if few people "Like" or comment, it's just one more little jab at my ever-wavering self-esteem.

And lest there be a silver lining without a cloud, a part of me doesn't feel worthy of the recognition. If you aren't familiar with BOC, it is a program where seriously ill children receive beads for treatment milestones. Most of the beads are purchased commercial beads, but for special milestones, such as the end of a round of chemo, the child may receive an Act of Courage bead made by an artist. A child may get an Act of Courage bead for other things, including just having a really bad day.

I do donate a lot of Act of Courage beads to BOC and I do wholeheartedly support its mission and vision. I do believe in the power of beads to help an ailing child tell the story of their treatment journey. But I don't often sit down at the torch and make beads specifically for BOC. Most of the beads I donate are just beads I happen to make, and since I make a lot of beads, many wind up in the BOC bowl. Yes, I actually have a designated bowl for BOC. Some beads go directly in after being cleaned but most go in after I've had them for a while.

We are encouraged not to be perfectionists because we are our own harshest critics and children won't notice or mind if a bead is slightly off center or if a petal of a flower is smeared. As long as the beads are sound, no sharp holes, no easily breakable elements, no exposed metals, BOC can use our beads. I never send the really ugly ones. Those go into the lake. But any beads that have been around for a few months must go and I'm so happy to have a place to send them where maybe they will help a child in healing. But it's no sacrifice.

So, there it is, classic Imposter Syndrome, something good happens and I examine all the reasons that I don't deserve it. And this week I have another good thing to feel guilty about.

I applied and was chosen for a Contributing Editor position for Glass Bead Evolution, a brand new print magazine to be published by the International Society for Glass Beadmakers. I will be writing the Artist to Artist feature. I haven't gotten my first assignment yet, but I'm looking forward to proving to the Editor in Chief, the lampwork world and most importantly to myself that I can nail this baby.

And here are the qualifiers. It's not a paid position, so my competition for the assignment quite possibly did not include any Pulitzer prize-winning journalists. I know the Editor in Chief, I've met her at two Gatherings (ISGB annual conventions) and I've taken a class from her at Blue Moon in Austin. I think she is one of the nicest people in the business of beadmaking and also one of the most talented artists. We have a good rapport and she actually gets my jokes. I've participated in several bead exchanges that she's hosted (I suspect she never sleeps) and she knows she can count on me.

But wait a minute. I earned all that. So maybe I do deserve this one.

And remember that I said one of those beads that were in the kiln when I last posted might inspire a spin-off if it looked as good coming out as it did going in? Well I did like it, and I have been playing with the concept and right now I'm happy about these beads too.

Now I just need a name for this series. The common element in them is encased shards. Maybe I'll call it Under Glass Runes. Although Life on Mars appeals to me too. Why ask why.

"Here's hoping all the days ahead
Wont be as bitter as the ones behind you
Be an optimist instead
And somehow happiness will find you
Forget what happened yesterday
I know that better things are on the way.

"It's really good to see you rocking out and having fun
Living like you just begun
Accept your life and what it brings
I hope tomorrow you'll find better things."
(Ray Davies)

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Thanks for your comment! I will post it as soon as I receive it. Liz