Change is a natural part of what is hopefully progress, though the changes I've implemented may seem a little.... backwards. I am un-doing many of the things, especially in my business, that have been a staple over the last few years, and I'm here to talk about what those changes are, and why I've made them (as best as I'm able, at any rate). These changes have been announced here and there, on social media, in my newsletter, but for those who may have missed it, here's the scoop!
First off, some may have noticed that January marked the first month, in many many years, that I haven't had a Tuesday Tutorial Treasure Hunt. That's right, the trusty Tuesday hunts are a thing no more. Now, that doesn't mean there wont be hunts, they just wont necessarily by on a Tuesday, nor necessarily for a tutorial. Occasionally, I may have a crazy good 70% off coupon code available in limited quantities as part of the hunt. Sometimes there may be a hunt for the checkout page for a free piece of jewelry. They may not be every month, they may be twice a month. And there may still be tutorials in the hunts as well. There just wont be quite the adherence to schedules as was previously the case. (Note: Those who purchased the membership last August and September will still get an intermediate design as if it were a Treasure Hunt tutorial).
Next, I've made some changes to my packaging, which I'll have a separate post on soon. My packaging has, for a while, been 100% recyclable, as eco-friendly practices have become much more important to me, personally and professionally. There are no tins, no drawstring bags, no jewelry boxes with those poly-cotton inserts. Just paper products with recyclable labels for boxes and shipping.
dSo, when I say lessons are retired, or only available for a limited time, it's forever. Once gone, they are gone, with no opportunity to snag them moving forward. This also helps me run my website more efficiently, as over 500 lessons and images can become a frightening mammoth to sort through on a bi-yearly basis when retired lessons made a brief appearance. So, the many many lessons (over 300) currently listed in the Retired Lessons shop section will be available through the end of February and then permanently deleted from my storefront and from the admin side of things as well. EDIT: COUPON NO LONGER ACTIVE, AS THESE LESSONS HAVE NOW BEEN PERMANENTLY RETIRED.
The 2021 membership may also mark the last membership moving forward, though I still have time to contemplate this decision. Eeek! I know! But there are still new things coming, such as the various treasure hunts mentioned above, a 5000k Members Facebook Group 12 Hour Giveaway (you can join my group here), most likely happening sometime between late April or late June, new YouTube videos and more mystery box options! And who knows what else this brain of mine might cook up, so stay tuned!
I recognize the last two years have been.... an adjustment, for most of us. But I just want to say that I appreciate all the support shown to me these many years. I've fostered many fantastic friendships, full of inspiration and creativity, and hope to be around to foster many more. So, on that note, I'll see you in the next blog post... of which there will be many!
into something a little more.... ritualistic. As stated in a previous post, my spirituality and spiritual practice has begun to play a much larger role in my creative expression these past many months. Somewhat due to the mental exhaustion of quarantine but mostly as a general balm for my mental health, as a whole, which has been much in need of outlets healthier than ice cream and chips (ahem).
As a practicing pagan for more than 30 years, the idea of ritual has played a prominent role in my day-to-day life. It's important to make a ritual of even the simplest tasks because within this ritual is a cleansing of the spirit and release of negative thoughts. Much like journaling (another passion of mine) is used to dust off the day, whether of a happy nature or not, the same can be said for cleaning, organizing, photography, and creating in its many forms. We can pour the pent-up energies of our lives into these projects and tasks, and free ourselves for new experiences.
With this in mind, I began to craft these new headdresses as an expression of what I felt I lacked in spirit, or what I had an abundance of, in order to release them into the ether and let that energy live a life of its own, to affect my own life or not, as it chose. This may sound too esoteric or eccentric for many, which is understandable, however, I've approached the creation of my jewelry in this manner for many years and been better for it.
I don't expect these to make regular appearances in my shop, as part of a collection, as my creative outlets shift over the months to suit what I need to express mentally or spiritually. Perhaps simpler versions may appear with wire wrap adornments, perhaps these will be all there will ever be (at least for some time). So, if you'd like to add a little meaningful ritual to your day, I'd urge you to take a look at my creations. Should you find yourself in possession of one, wear it. Wear it every day. Walk around the house in it. Feel like a wood witch, a goddess, a queen of your own making. Wear it to ritual, if it suits you to do so, or during cosplay and festivals for fun.
Wear it, simply, because you can.
But, while I've always taken time to meditate, practice gratitude and journal on a daily basis, the true mess this year has made of things has further driven home the need for cleansing... of a different sort. Ironically, as you can see pictured, my sacred space is the only space in my home you could say lacks the minimalism I've otherwise wholly embraced. But each thing has great meaning and usefulness to me and my practice.
This is my creative and spiritual oasis. Some may assume my desk, where I create my jewelry and tutorials, would better serve this purpose. But, because jewelry is my business, I've learned it suits my productivity better when my work space remains practical and usable and easy to navigate. However, that's not to say I don't carry my spiritual inspiration, lessons and messages from my meditation cushion to the workbench.
These new designs were all conceived here, in my sacred space, where I'm surrounded by the symbolism of my life-long practice, my Slavic roots and ancestors, and the peace of stepping away from the crazy of 2020, if only for a few minutes a day.
I hope you'll enjoy the designs to come and maybe derive a little peace of your own.
Let's get a little personal.
While I've always been a rather organized person, I've also always had a penchant for collecting things. First it was books. I'd amassed a library of 5000 books in my younger years and enjoyed them at times, for sure, but also became acutely aware, when I moved with my husband to Michigan, that they became more a burden than relief from burden. As a family of four, our space was limited and decisions were required to make the most use of our space and to feed our mental health and the health of our family, as a whole. Not only was a book-purchasing habit financially ill-advised at the time, but they drew me away from acknowledging and dealing with stress in a healthier manner. Obviously, this doesn't speak to everyone who has a library of books at their disposal, but is only a comment on my own experience with this addiction.
And I've found, over the years, that my answer to stress or guilt or grief was to feed my addiction to acquire. Yes, I donated my entire collection of books to the local library book sale and moved exclusively to borrowed, rented or electronic books. But when grief became a constant friend a few years later, I found myself acquiring things anew. This time it was tarot decks and purses and clothes and things I felt would somehow provide a fulfillment that I was otherwise missing because of the loss I'd recently experienced.
It took a long time, four years actually, to recognize the habits I'd formed and how they negatively impacted my mental and spiritual space, and to take steps to rectify the behaviors and partake in a little self love by, well, not partaking, as the case may be.
2020 Has Been A Real BITCH.
I've reduced my wardrobe, purses, tarot decks, personal items, kitchen items, only to those things I truly value, that I use or take time to appreciate daily. If it had time to collect dust, that's time I'd forgotten what worth I'd assigned to that thing in the first place. And I'm aware now, more than before, the impact that unconscious spending and acquiring has on my life and the wider world. Last year, I had more than 200 Amazon packages delivered to my home, 200 boxes and bubble wrap and packaging in landfills, 200 trips to my door. And how many of those 200 items did I truly find value in? I actually went through my 2019 Amazon orders and only 19 are items I still have or would purchase again. Wow. Talk about an eye-opening exercise!
So I've become conscious of the waste I leave behind, and the distraction from the people and things important to me. And, as a business owner, I don't want to contribute to waste and clutter and things without value. Sure, I make baubles and sell baubles and love that people wear my baubles and enjoy them. I love that people value what I offer and that I can offer something worthy of that at all. But I want to do so consciously. Purposefully. Meaningfully.
Because of that, you may notice some changes to how I run my business and offer my products. It's been a journey in itself, finding solutions to product packaging, for instance, that are entirely eco-friendly, while still embracing a minimalist home. If you run a business, you'll know what I mean.... it can over-run your living space! So I was on the hunt for packaging I could buy in bulk (thus reducing the amount of deliveries and carbon emissions) but would fit in the space allotted to it, and was 100% recyclable.
When you receive a package from me, the entire box, from the packaging tape to the label can be tossed directly in your recycle bin. Easy peasy. No mess. No guilt. And an entire year's worth of supplies fits snugly in my office nook. No more overtaking cabinets or closets in every room of the house.
But it's not just packaging. While this may not be everyone's favorite change, I am no longer accepting any custom requests for anything not currently in my available materials inventory. I am only ordering jewelry-making supplies once a year, again to reduce carbon emissions and packaging waste. If I do not have a 24" chain to substitute with the 20" chain offered, for instance, I will not be buying chain specifically to accommodate that request. While I don't typically take custom requests regardless, if I should take one and it requires materials I don't have on hand, the request will (sadly) be denied. I want to push myself (and encourage any artist out there to do the same) to use what I have before investing in more. More, in my case, is simply a distraction from creation. I call it "decision overwhelm", when I see too many things and fail to actually start a project because I can't decide what to use. It's the same reason I reduced my entire wardrobe to essentials. I no longer have to spend time deciding what to wear and can just put on what's available and get on with doing things.
And, I'm sure, during the months to come, the need for more change will make itself apparent, and I hope you'll bear with me while I continue to transition to a sustainable, minimalist and ultimately happier way of life. It continues to be a struggle, but I'm daily working towards buying consciously from people and brands I believe in, for things I truly value, and to offer those things to others in return.
Stay creative, folks (and I assure you that you can do so with less)!
Now on to the winners! But first, I'll say a big thank you to everyone for participating. You fill me with a sense of creativity and reignite my passion for design, each and every time I see one of these pieces, and I hope you participants all had fun giving it a go.
Both winners deserve a round of applause for their work, as does everyone who participated in the challenge. I'm always so humbled by the entries received, the participant's excitement and encouraging words to one another. You all represent a true sense of community, and I'm just happy to be a part of it.
These winners have received their $25 cash prizes and have been emailed regarding the other winnings. I hope you'll head on over to the Pinterest gallery, if you haven't already, and show your appreciation for these two amazing designers, as well as all those who took the time to enter with their original creations.
Thank you and happy weaving,
Now VOTING BEGINS and it's time for the normal contest jargon....
View the GALLERY OF ENTRIES here (please view from desktop or laptop as the link is proving finicky from phones and tablets)
I often hear a lot of folks say that tutorials somehow negate the creative force, that following the instructions of another lacks a sense of originality. And this design challenge proves exactly why that's nonsense! Instruction is not law, it's not immutable. You are allowed to work with the flow of a lesson, or row down your own river. It's a jumping-off point, but not canon. I love to see how others change designs, allow mistakes to happen, cut wires too short accidentally and have to improvise. Those moments always spoke to me on a personal level, and offered me the opportunity to own the process, which is exactly what these entrants have done. They OWNED it!
(Please note: I received 69 emails and responded to each. I checked my spam folder daily to make sure I didn't miss a single entry. If you attempted to enter and do not see your entry in the gallery, please send me an email ASAP. I will add your entry to the gallery as quickly as I'm able.)
The gallery of entries will be available for VOTING, however, through July 22nd, 2020. Voting is open only to those who participated in the contest. To vote:
A note to non-participating viewers and commentators…. please reserve the term “VOTED” for participants only, to avoid confusion during the judging process, but do feel free to comment as a show of appreciation for the beautiful work submitted. These entries are worthy of the recognition they receive and then some.
On July 23rd, votes will be tallied and the “Group Favorite” (most voted by participants) will win my completed version of this project, any ten tutorials of their choice and a $25 cash prize via PayPal. In the case of a tie, I will place the deciding vote.
Also, a “Judged Favorite”, chosen by a panel of four jewelry artists and three “consumers” (who are not participating in the contest), will also receive any ten tutorials of their choice and a $25 cash prize via PayPal.
Every contestant should receive the finished version of this tutorial as a thank you for his or her participation. This tutorial will be sent as a reply to all the participants, within the next day or two. Please check your spam folder or contact me at email@example.com if you do not receive your copy of the tutorial by the end of the weekend.
Thank you all so much!
Enter between June 10-July 15. Open world wide.
The purpose of the "Finish It!" challenge is to encourage the participants to extend themselves, their talents and creativity beyond the limitations of a single set of instructions and create pieces uniquely their own. Tutorials have been an integral part of my personal evolution as a jewelry artist, from such talents as Eni Oken, Iza Malzcyk, IMNIUM and Lonely Soldier. And my progression from the steps and instructions provided to me by others has been a worthwhile journey towards my own creative self-discovery. Tutorials need never represent a "cookie cutter" aesthetic, nor the only design possibility, but rather a gateway to limitless possibilities, and the entries received for these contests have proven, time and again, the truth of that statement.
Here’s the gist: At the bottom of this post is a link to a tutorial or, more accurately, the beginning of a tutorial, and ending abruptly less than halfway through the instruction. Your job is to create a piece beginning with the steps, as explained in the file, but ending with your own imagination!
While this is mostly intended to reward you with a sense of accomplishment, the “Group Favorite” will win my completed version of this project and any ten tutorials of their choice, plus $25 via PayPal (be sure to be PayPal ready!)
A “Judged Favorite”, chosen by a panel of four jewelry artists and three “consumers” (none of which will be participating in the contest), will also receive any ten tutorials of their choice plus $25 via PayPal.
Every contestant will receive the finished version of this tutorial simply for participating. This tutorial will arrive as a reply to your submission email, after the contest is closed to new entries, so check your spam folder if you do not receive it by July 22nd. Also, be sure your email host will accept incoming attachments. I've had many emails rejected because the mail box was full, or security settings did not allow attachments.
Note: Please access this file via a laptop or desktop computer. Some mobile devices are uncooperative with PDF downloads, and I may not be able to address requests for manual email delivery of this file in a timely manner (thus using up your submission time).
Let me preface this by saying that, while I've been disappointed in my lack of progress with outlined goals, I've since come to a point of acceptance and self-love that allows me to acknowledge it's okay to experience your day, week or year within the parameters of your energy and needs. This means that, no, I didn't meet my goals. Not a single one. But that's okay.
I spent too much money. I bought too many planners and too many clothes and too many purses. More of any one thing than I am likely to use. Not only did I spend money, but I realized too late what a superfluous purchase it was, then later re-sold it or gave away many of the things I had acquired. I recognize the waste I caused and in which I indulged, and I'm working steadily to make better choices as the weeks unfold.
However, it's been a struggle.
Last fall, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. This illness persisted for longer than anticipated and, even when my tests came back negative and I was clear of the illness, I was feeling lethargic, unmotivated and uninspired. This has continued through today. In February, however, an answer arrived in a diagnosed of ME / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, most likely triggered by the viral pneumonia (in theory), and was told to expect my physical and emotional stressors to continue indefinitely.
So how does this relate to my depth year and 2019 goals?
It has led me to understand that it's okay. That it's acceptable and encouraged to make allowances which encourage self-care. Sometimes this means goals and plans must be sacrificed so my energy may be utilized in ways that many take for granted... taking a shower, folding a load of laundry, grocery shopping or an afternoon with the in-laws. But it has also taught me that there's no excuse for indulging in unhealthy behaviors and habits that are not feeding my wellness, but adding to its demise.
What does this mean moving forward?
It means I'm taking things slow. I'm keeping myself accountable for using my resources responsibly, which include my energy and my finances. It means lessons may be released late, videos may be postponed, personal art projects may remain in a perpetual state of "almost complete", and how I interact with others is altered to protect my mental health.
And I hope those of you out there who also experience chronic illness are recognizing your needs and finding healthy ways to address them, without guilt, without regret and without self-admonishment. You deserve to care for yourself first, before you can care for the needs of others.
Stay safe everyone and stay creative!
But first, I'd like to give a huge shout-out to all you wonderful folks who visited with me on my Facebook business page a couple weeks ago and shared in my 15k Likes Facebook giveaway, which was 12 hours of phenomenal fun. You've not only made the experience fantastic, but also the journey getting there and I'm not being modest when I say I couldn't have done it without your support.
Also, there's a boat load of stuff coming up that I have to share! First, later this month (August 16th) retired tutorials will be visiting my storefront once again, for two weeks. There will be a coupon code released all over social media (and I'll be sure to post it in the shopfront as well) good towards the purchase of these retired lessons. So if you've had hopes for the return of a particular design, keep an eye out because they're coming back!
Second, September 1, 2019 marks the release of the second annual Tutorial Membership! The membership will only be available for purchase during the month of September, and you can read all about it by clicking the link highlighted above, or check the page beneath the "Learn to Wire Wrap" tab. If you have any questions regarding this massive tutorial discount program, don't hesitate to leave them below in the comments. Also, feel free to email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll do my best to address any questions or concerns you may have.
You'll get to see how I create the bezels, attach stones together, layer with accent weaves, handle wire shortages or overages and deal with frustrations that might arise from unplanned designs. This workshop will appear as a purchase option in my storefront in October, and will grant you access to a link including the PDF and videos, for immediate access and download. The workshop will be priced at $99 and will be available for purchase through the month of October only! And don't forget... if you purchase the membership in September, you'll have your member's coupon code to use towards the purchase of the workshop! My email will also always be open to any questions or for trouble-shooting during your creative process while creating your multi-stone projects.
But wait, there's more! Since the coming months are jammed packed with goodies, there likely will not be another Finish It! Design Challenge scheduled this year. Instead, during my Facebook group live chats, I'll be starting a project during the chat and choosing a name from the comments to receive the unfinished piece. This individual will then be tasked with completing the design using their own creative voice and vision! The first of these Finish It! Giveaways was a great success and I enjoyed seeing the completed project (which will be shared in the Facebook group).
I've laid a lot at your feet, so I'm going to head off, binge watch horror movies on Netflix and do some video editing! Have a fabulous day, everyone, and stay creative!
Anyway, that means I'm even MORE impressed with the entries, because the participants took the steps I provided (which didn't include that pesky 14 gauge wire) and had to incorporate that nonsense piece of wire in there somewhere! And boy did I open every single email submission I received and say to myself "Why didn't I think of that?" Because every single entry was outstanding.
By the way, if you haven't already seen the Gallery of Entries, check out the gorgeous work by clicking the link highlighted above! You wont be disappointed.
Now for the winners! We had both a "group favorite", voted for by the participants of the challenge (and only the participants, to help avoid a popularity contest), and a "judged favorite" chosen by a panel of seven individuals, myself included., who were non-participants in the challenge. So let's begin!
Both winners will receive 10 tutorials of their choice and a $25 cash prize (payable via PayPal), and Dalila will receive my finished pendant (sans that 14 gauge round wire!). But honestly, guys, let's be straight.... the struggle to judge this was real, and I imagine that sentiment is shared by all the participants who cast their vote. Because every entry was a wonderful peek inside the character of its creator, and inspires in me the motivation and creative drive to get some work done! Thank you so much to everyone who participated, and I hope you will all check out the entries linked above and share some love with the contestants.
See you in the next challenge! Stay creative!
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