Sunday, July 19, 2015

Hot or not

"Strip your heart and it starts to snow. Love is a high-wire act I know. Someday I'll find a net below.
Someday I'm gonna be safe in the arms of love."

Proving once again that the only rule of thumb when it comes to selling beads online is that there are no rules, I had a flurry of activity, followed by a dead zone. Followed by a frenzy of action.

I should be so used to that phenom by now that I'd view it like the weather here - if you don't like it, wait a minute and it will change.

And for the most part, I do, I'm philosophical. I keep melting glass, working on my designs, and eventually, if I keep relisting things, the right person will see my beads and buy them.

It's a lot of work, but it's my job now, and if work was supposed to be fun, they'd call it fun and not work.

As usual, the less I look at what other artists are listing and selling, the less I feel bad because I am comparing myself to them. When I do, one of two things happens, and neither one is good. One, I see great talent and I despair of achieving that artistic vision or technique, or both. Two, I find my jaw dropping because I can't see what is so great about some beads that causes customers to bid crazy money while mine, in my eye just as pretty or even much prettier, languish with no bids.

The obvious answer is to stop looking at what other artists are listing and selling.

It helps that my buying urge is on a leash right now. I haven't been bidding much and I've been outbid on the few things I did bid on, but the real win is that I'm not trawling the Facebook lampwork sales sites for beads to add to my collection. I list and I get out. In fact, I've engineered things so all my listings are auctions, all of them end at the same time, usually 1 pm or 5 pm, and I don't have to hang out on Facebook all day in case I get a buy-it-now. I know some people won't bid, they will only buy-it-now, but on the flip side, plenty of people were bidding the opening bid on my auctions and taking their chances on saving that $3 to $5 more.

This week is the International Society of Glass Beadmakers (ISGB) annual conference, known as "The Gathering" and this year it's in Albuquerque. The Gathering alternates its location year-to-year. Last year it was in Houston. Next year it will be in New Orleans.

I've been to three Gatherings. My first was in Miami in 2009, about 18 months into my beadmaking journey. I won a scholarship, partly funded by the Houston Society for Glass Beadmakers (HSGB), informally known as "The Houston Hotties." The scholarship was based on the essay I wrote (what I hoped to get out of the conference, what I committed to give back to the glass community if chosen, etc.) and 3 letters of recommendation. It was not based on talent or financial need.

My parents were alive then, still in good health and living in Fort Lauderdale. Neil and his dad traveled with me. Several Houston area beadmakers were there, all sharing a room at the hotel, while I did my own thing, because that's how I roll. For some of my Houston cohorts, the Gathering was their big hurrah, a chance to get away from home and family and party down.

The actual conference opens on Thursday evening and runs through the bead swap on Sunday night. Traditionally, Friday and Sunday are packed with lectures and filmed demos, Saturday is the Bead Bazaar (imagine 100 tables of some of the best lampwork bead artists' wok) and Saturday night the banquet and live auction. There are extras like gallery tours, there is a technical vendor area with glass and tools for sale, and there is Open Torch, where those who wish to can hang out and melt glass.

Gathering action really starts on Monday of the week leading up to the conference. Many participants arrive early to take classes. So for some it's a full week event and a pretty penny, considering class fees, hotel rooms, meals, transportation and what not. I've never been able to drop the dime. I did have fun in Miami, but I had my safety net too, Neil and his dad, so I had someone to eat dinner with.

Here is where I admit, to those who don't already know this about me, that I am a world class introvert with self-confidence issues, who finds it hard to walk into a room where I don't know anyone and join a conversation. I have a hard time going up to a table at a meal and asking to join a group of people I don't know. And no matter how politely they welcome me, I always have a sense that I'm not really wanted, or maybe that they are merely indifferent.

Age-old baggage. I've worked hard to shush the voices in my head and to embrace the philosophy that what other people think about me is none of my business. But I think I keep people at arms length rather than risk rejection. I'm quick to imagine that other people are ignoring me or don't love me, when in fact there is no reason for anyone not to like me and they are probably just introverts themselves who are imagining I don't like them.

Did I convince you? Yeah, no,, me either.

Two years after Miami, I went to the Gathering in Bellevue, Washington State. I only registered for one day, Sunday, and I shared a table at the Bead Bazaar with a lampworker I hooked up with on Lampwork Etc. Neil went with me again. We flew up on Friday and I got to go to Open Torch on Friday night. We stayed until Monday, so I got to go to the bead swap on Sunday night. As usual I opted not to pay the extra money for the banquet, so I had dinner with Neil (who'd gone to a Mariners game while I worked the Bazaar) and then I sat at the back of the ballroom for the live auction.

The justification for going to the Bellevue Gathering was that nearby Seattle was the launch point for our funky adventure on the Amtrak Empire Builder and our visit to Glacier National Park.

If the Gathering last year had not been in Houston, I doubt I'd have gone. I skipped Rochester twice and St. Louis once. I won't say I'd never go to another. In fact, all the posts on Facebook from the attendees have made me a little nostalgic and slightly envious. I can't exactly say I wish I was there. I can say I wish I was one of the popular people, the ones who feel completely in their element there. One of the ones in a group going up in an air balloon, or trading beads before the official bead swap, or huddled excitedly around the pool bar drinking margaritas. Except that I don't drink.

The Houston Gathering was fun for me because I had a posse. It did seem silly that all of us Houston attendees sat together at lunch and met up in the lobby bar and saved seats for each other in the presentations. But it gave me a chance to have a different experience, one where I wasn't avoiding opportunities to interact with other beadmakers because I had Neil to eat dinner with.

I've never been to New Orleans. It's a 350 mile drive. I might think about going. I might even put on my big girl pants and go by myself, without Neil. If I do, I should probably take a class, which would be a safe, structured way to meet some people and maybe make dinner plans with them, just like a grownup.

Or maybe I'll skip it and just go to Bead Camp.

Some new work. I'm a little bit proud of these.



"My heart's not ready for the rocking chair
I need somebody who really cares
So tired of living solitaire
Someday I'm gonna be
Safe in the arms of love

Strip your heart and it starts to snow
Love is a high-wire act I know
Someday I'll find a net below
Someday I'm gonna be
Safe in the arms of love

I want a heart to be forever mine
Want eyes to see me satisfied
Gonna hang my heartaches out to dry
Some day I'm gonna be
Safe in the arms of love

I want arms that know how to rock me
Safe in the arms of love
I wanna fall and know that love has caught me
Safe in the arms of love."

(Mary Ann Kennedy, Pam Rose, Pat Bunch)

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