It’s great to have a hobby that allows me to balance work and play, while supporting a great cause!
As I shared earlier, at school, I frequently donate a dollar to a local food bank in the name of students who have done good deeds (like holding the door open for someone, being courteous and respectful, behaving well on the bus, working hard, doing quality work, caring for others, etc.). I describe these good deeds over the intercom during my morning announcements and donate a dollar in the name of an individual or a group, to Gleaners. I also do this to acknowledge the efforts of my amazing staff. The kids love hearing their names, their homeroom names or their bus numbers on the announcements because they know that they have helped feed families in need. At Gleaners, a food bank in Indianapolis $1 = 4 meals for people in need, and the kids can’t wait to count how larger donations add up!
Gleaners supports many of my students through their BackSack program which provides kid friendly and shelf stable meals they can take home and eat during the weekend – a time when they do not receive the school breakfast and lunch which are often the only meals some of them get during the day. The incredible thing is that my students often bring pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters to add to our Gleaners’ jar. Some kids have donated their birthday money, others have donated money they had saved to purchase a toy – and their parents often say the kids made the decision on their own. Last year, a Girl Scouts troop added over $70 to the Gleaners’ jar. Their troop leaders said that the kids were clear about the causes they wanted to support, and this was one of them. The joy on their faces reminds me that these young people are growing up with important traits that will help them make the world a better place when they grow up and get to ‘rule the world’!
When I started selling my jewelry, it seemed to make complete sense to carry on the idea of doing good deeds, and because I love puns, Do Good Beads was born! Every time someone buys an item of jewelry at Do Good Beads, online or in person, I set aside a dollar to donate to Gleaners. Since December 31, 2013, Do Good Beads has collected $46 for 184 meals at Gleaners. Thank you to ALL who have purchased something from my shop. I hope you enjoy the jewelry you have purchased, and I thank you for also supporting a great cause. I look forward to updating this number once a month.
There’s something about creating a business card that makes the move from hobby to business real! I guess I’m in this for good!
On December 31st, I opened my online store on Etsy. It’s been an exciting adventure so far. I’ve always believed that the world would be a better place if more people ‘do good deeds’, so in keeping with that, I called my blog Do Good Beads. I decided to keep that name for my store. For every item purchased, I am donating $1 to Gleaners, a local food bank, where $1 = 4 meals for people in need. I’ve loved hearing about the compliments people have received when they wear the jewelry I’ve designed. I hope that does them a world of good too!
Thank you to everyone who encouraged me and nudged me in this direction. I couldn’t have done it without you!
This month, my friend and I set up the first booth for Do Good Beads at the Metamora Canal Days festival in Metamora, Indiana. We learned to set up a canopy (and it held its own in the face of high winds on the first afternoon of the festival) and figured out how to display the jewelry (avoid putting them in bowls – place them right on the table so passers-by can see them). We lost two necklaces to shoplifters and figured out a simple system to keep track of our inventory (we just put out two of each type of necklace – we could watch what was happening better). We said goodbye to warm weather and braved the cold winds of fall with the protection of tarps kindly loaned by another friend!
It was a great learning experience. I feel more confident about my craft and am thinking of doing this more seriously (selling jewelry online, perhaps), I learned that friends are an incredible asset – they pumped me up with tons of encouragement, gave me ideas for my business card, loaned tables, tarps and bungee cords, cooked great food for the three days at the fair (an important decision given that we couldn’t find vegetarian fare at the festival), and drove all the way there to show their support! My family was extremely supportive and encouraging as well – especially my husband who put up with several hours of my hiding in my craft room as I worked to create a decent inventory for the fair, and came to help us set up the booth. He even made the first purchase – bought me a necklace from my booth! I’m not selling this one!
I look forward to seeing my hobby take new turns in the months ahead!
…trying something new and creating something beautiful!
I’ve had a lot of fun learning new techniques online. In July, Bettina Welker posted her Pixelated Retro Blend Cane and generously shared her technique. I just had to try it! I ended up creating several stacks of circles in my favorite colors and extruded them (with lots of help from my son who helped out once my hands started hurting – next time, I’m planning to use some gardening gloves as I extrude the cane to get a better grip).
I had fun experimenting with her idea. I reversed the way in which I fed the stacks into the extruder and was fascinated by the differences in color when the clay strings appeared. I created some stacks with just white circles between the colors, avoiding adding black. That gave me some more interesting combinations. I tried extruding with a bigger circle die, a die with multiple circles in it, and then one which extruded flat snakes!
That was in July. And then the canes sat waiting for me to figure out what I wanted to do with them. This weekend, I pulled them out and had fun creating beads and pendants. I know I’ll go back to this technique over and over again in the future!
It was lovely having a long weekend to unwind from a hectic start to a new school year.
Making beads is an incredibly therapeutic and calming experience, and last Saturday I had a lot of fun making a new batch. I’m trying to get more done in less time and so I ended up with an assembly line process. This time I made the base beads first and then had fun adding layers of color before baking and varnishing them. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was nothing monotonous about this process. There’s comfort in repetitiveness and creating something beautiful calmed my mind.
I went back to work yesterday with my batteries recharged. I can’t wait to string this batch and I plan to do so before the next long weekend!
It is exciting to see the work of polymer clay artists and learn from them. The web is a great place to pick up new tips. Some months back I was thrilled to see the work of Alice Stroppel on a blog. She shared a video of the Stroppel Cane technique, developed while she was experimenting with left over canes. Click on the link to watch it – it’s fascinating! That’s what I love about polymer clay… you can do a few simple things and get magical results!
Of course, I couldn’t resist playing with the technique. I didn’t have any leftover canes since I don’t make a lot of fancy canes, so I extruded some ‘canes’ or really, I should say ‘snakes’ of clay, sliced them up and used them to try out her technique. It was a lot of fun, and I’m pretty sure I’ll go back to create some more!
It’s about 5 years since Blackburn’s book arrived, and I’ve grown quite a bit since then. I continue to get ideas online and from books. I’m delighted that my local public library has several titles. Yay! Over the past year, I’ve been trying to find a balance between work and family time. And playing with clay has also featured a little more frequently. As I get ready to start a new school year, I’m planning to carve out some more time for the things that are important in my life. This blog might just help me stay focused on this goal once my hectic work-life begins. I want to keep venturing into the world of polymer clay and I can log my meanderings here. I hope you’ll come back and find me here… learning and growing with a medium that inspires me to create!
I have to admit, this year I want to learn to take better photographs of my jewelry. Perhaps you’ll see the quality of pictures improve too!