Saturday, August 29, 2015

Just don't do it

"If forgiveness is understanding
Then I offer mea culpa for the millionth time
From this tumbling house of cards of mine."

It's possible that I'm not only a stockpiler and to some degree a hoarder, but that I'm a full-fledged addict as well.

For a few weeks I'd put a leash on bead buying. Maybe I had overdosed because I really didn't feel the urge to buy. I have so many tiny works of art in my bead collection and while I treasure most of them, I honestly felt like I didn't want any more.

Not buying any beads felt good, actually. Some of my own beads were selling and I liked seeing my bank balance increase. Then I had a little slip. The first thing in my Facebook feed one morning was a set by an Isreali artist I admire, and it was a buy-it-now.

I didn't jump on it though. I actually went and looked at the set of her beads that I already own, to convince myself that I didn't need more. Seeing the beauty of the set (still in the box it arrived in), I went back to check on the listing, half hoping it was sold. It wasn't, and by god, the next thing I found myself doing was typing BIN please.

And having broken the ice, I stalked her trunk show for the next two days and snagged another BIN.

These are te beads. The artist is Michal Silberberg.

And since I might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, I did a BIN on a focal by an artist in Germany. This is the bead, front and back. The artist is Angelika Kaufman.

I quit there. I paid the invoices and got back on the wagon.

But what has my addiction radar pinging is glass. I've bought glass several times recently. When I buy glass, I buy a lot of glass. A pound of this and a pound of that. I do look for sales and discounts and bargains, but the bottom line is, I don't need all the glass I'm buying. I seriously doubt I will ever use most of it.

Even if I stopped buying glass, I think I could make beads for the rest of my beadmaking days, even if those last another 20 years. And I don't know any 80 year old beadmakers. The oldest beadmaker I ever knew was 78 and he died. He was still making beads, so who knows, he might have kept going if he hadn't keeled over.

One way I know I have a problem is when I lose track of what I have and buy more of it. I got a box of glass today that included 10 oz. each of white and black. Granted I didn't pay much for it, $4 per color, but that isn't the point. When I was putting it away, I noticed that I had at least a lb. of each that I'd completely forgotten I had stashed away.

On top of that, I ordered more glass today, and because I was trying to reach a minimum amount to get a price break, I added another lb. of black. I have been going through a lot of black and white, especially right now since Halloween colors have been selling well. And black and white are problematic colors. I use one brand of cheaper black for bead bases and a more expensive brand of black for the stringer I use to decorate my beads.

The black I bought today is a brand I haven't worked with and I'm hoping it plays nicely, unlike the cheaper base black I'm using that spits at me every time I introduce it to the flame. I have a burn on my face where a hot piece flew up and hit me next to my nose and stuck. Brushing off a hot glass shard can make things worse, I tried to flick it off but I missed.

The real reason I placed this order today was that I wanted more of one limited production color and this was the only place in North America that still had any in stock. Never mind that I have at least 2 lbs. of it already and that I can use it sparingly and get a lot of mileage out of it. That lb. of glass cost $50 and because I was shipping it from Canada and because there was a discount with a 5 lb. minimum and $15 shipping if the order was $150 after the discount, I just had to make it worthwhile.

Then I thought, the exchange rate is good, about 75 cents on the dollar, so the prices are really not bad, but when I got the invoice, I found out that I had to pay in Canadian dollars, which I still think is strange. But it's paid now, and the glass will come in the post.

I really hope I am done now. I have boatloads of colors, including lbs.and lbs. of colors that I doubt I will ever use, colors like dark aqua, which is pretty but fussy to work with and I just don't have that many ideas of what to do with that particular color, especially when light aqua is so much prettier. The 14 oz. of dark aqua that arrived today were part of a package deal that included free shipping and some more appealing colors.

It's a sickness. And there really is no Glass Anonymous. It's not alcohol or drugs or food and while globally I probably have some sort of peer group, most of the beadmakers I know are happy with a 1/4 lb. of this and 1/4 lb. of that and a total glass stash of less than 20 lbs., possibly less than 10 lbs.

One of our fall projects is to do an inventory of my glass. Neil said he'd help me, he is a whiz with Excel, and I'm hoping when the weather gets nice, sometime around October, we can spend a few hours (or days) in the garage, with a scale and a laptop. I can read out the color names and weights, he can record them. If we get ambitious we can even include price estimates, but I'll probably sit down later and add those once we have the colors and amounts logged.

It's a little scary to think about because right now I'm not sure if I have 200 lbs. or 500 lbs. or 1,000 lbs.

I rationalize. I'm not putting the glass on credit cards and paying the minimum balance. I'm not even dipping into savings. Truthfully this year I've bought less glass than in any previous year since I started lampworking. Arguably buying glass is a good thing because I can write off the cost against my income on my tax return.

Realistically, all that is smoke and mirrors. The bottom line is that I have an excessive amount of glass, I don't need more, I don't even want more when I think about it sanely, but I keep buying more. I won't go as far as to say that I'm powerless against my addiction, nor can I imagine that turning it over to a higher power that I barely believe in would help stop me. I just have to stop. I have will power. I need to draw on that.

I also know that I've been to this point before. I've drawn the line in the sand before. I've said no more and I'm done. Then some glass manufacturer comes out with new colors and I'm hosed.

If I was making stellar beads right now, I might not even be having this conversation with myself. But I'm not. I'm cranking out a lot of bead pairs and sets which are selling, but I'm not creating art. Most days I make about 30 simple set beads and 5 focals. The focals aren't knocking my socks off. Well, that's not strictly true. I think some of them are really lovely, but those aren't the ones that are selling.

And as you already know about me, if my beads aren't selling it's because they are unworthy. If my beads are unappreciated, then they aren't art. It's all about the validation baby.

I'm tired. I haven't been sleeping and I don't know why. I have periodic bouts of insomnia that last anywhere from days to months. I've been having a lot of muddled dreams. steady diet of Harry Potter and Netflix crime drama may be partly to blame, but this has come and gone for years now without a clear cause and effect.

For a while I was waking up in the wee hours and looking forward to morning, eager for that cup of coffee, jonesing to get to the torch. I still like going out to torch. It's my job and melting glass still intrigues and absorbs me and I like doing it but it's less urgent than it used to be.

The same goes for my workouts. I looked forward to getting on the treadmill and watching the next installment of whatever series I was watching. Now I don't mind getting on the treadmill, it's just what I do, but I catch myself watching the time too, looking forward to being done and taking a hot bath. I've never in my life had a runner's high or an endorphin rush. I used to think the best benefit of a workout was the guilt relief, getting something irritating-but-good-for-you out of the way. Now I wonder if it is more like scratching the itch of another addiction.

Clearly I need an intervention and since there's no one else to do it, I'll just have to do it myself.

So, Liz, you need to get a grip, get a handle on your bead and glass buying. You need to look at the underlying reasons for your buying these things. Are you unhappy, are you trying to fill some need in your life that you should be getting met some other other way? Is it to supply something that is missing and is there a healthier, more sensible way to fill that hole, whatever it is. If you can't figure it out alone, you should talk to a professional. If you can't stop buying beads and glass and still feel good and happy, then you really must speak to a professional.

Will you promise Liz?

The line is drawn in the sand again. A fresh gauntlet is thrown down.

Are you up to the challege Liz? Can you do this? You can do this, of course you can.

I've put it out to the universe now. Hold me accountable universe. Hold me accountable.

And I promise to let you know how it goes.

Here are some of the beads I've been making. The very popular Halloween colors.

The beads I think are truly art - but aren't selling well at all.

More beads that I love - but apparently others, not so much.

And a bit of everything else.

I could go on and on. And on. But I won't. You get the idea.

Just when I thought I had handles on this
I could soften my guard behind false confidence

Just when I found humble pie insipid
Exempt from this blind side and firmly in its grip

'Cause I'm seduced by reaction
And under the influence
I'm slipping again
I'm up to my tricks, off my wagon
I have no defense, I'm wreaking havoc
Wreaking havoc and consequence

I get reduced by my own willfulness
As I reach for my usual god replacements

'Cause I am rich with sanction
And lax in my steps
I'm slipping again
I'm up to my tricks, off my wagon
I have no defense, I'm wreaking havoc
Wreaking havoc and consequence

If forgiveness is understanding
The I offer mea culpa for the millionth time
From this tumbling house of cards of mine

I am beaten by my impulsiveness
By this uncanny foreshadowing of regret

'Cause I'm repulsed by restriction
At least that's my excuse
I'm slipping again
I'm up to my tricks, off my wagon
I have no defense, I'm wreaking havoc
Wreaking havoc and consequence

(Alanis Morissette, Guy Sigsworth)

1 comment:

glass bead journey said...

Hello Elizabeth, I love your beads, especially great colors you got on your silver glass beads! May I ask where you buy your glass? I am usually buying my glass from Franz and never herd of the place where price depends on quantity.
Thank you,

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