Friday, August 20, 2010

It all comes down to this...

A little about my small town...
Although I have lived the majority of my life in Chester County Pennsylvania, I didn't move into downtown West Chester until I was in my early 20's. I love my hometown. West Chester is a cute little town that is has been fueled by the ambition and imagination of it's younger residents. Some grew up here, some left and came back, and many WCU students decided to call West Chester home after they graduated. People like to shame you for not straying too far from home, but I really do love living here. I know that I will not always want live within the borough, but for now being able to walk a few blocks for a cup of coffee, perusing the new consignment shop and making a visit to the bead shop on Gay St. makes for a perfect afternoon in my book.

The Restaurant Festival
Poster designed by Brian Barto
I have been posting all summer about my booths at the Swinging Summer Thursday festivals in Downtown West Chester and how this was all going to prepare me for the biggest event of them all...The Restaurant Festival. This is by far the biggest event Downtown West Chester will see all year. Held on a Sunday every September from 12-5pm featuring more than 50 local restaurants and  nearly 110 arts and crafts vendors. There are also 3 stage areas for live music and a beer garden where everyone can sit and relax with a refreshing brew. I have loved attending this event for years especially because it is only a few blocks from my home. 

Initially the idea of setting up a stand at the Restaurant festival seemed like a million years away. I didn't know if I would actually have enough nerve to really go for it, or was this something I just talked about doing. Well...there is no going back now. I am in. I called this morning because I am too impatient to wait until they mailed me my acceptance letter (it came in the mail a few hours later). I don't even know how many people attend this event, but it will be far more than I have faced at any other festival. Not to mention that I will know many of them. This is intimidating and exciting at the same time. All I can do is keep making my jewelry and stand proudly by everything that I display. There is no point in focusing on the nerves because either way, I am doing this and people are coming. As much as the potential crowd overwhelms me, I am really proud of myself for going through with this. This may not seem like a huge step, but for me it is. For me this is the ultimate in exposure and vulnerability. Here goes nothing....

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Boxes and boxes of beads!

I did the unthinkable this weekend. The unimaginable, the unspeakable, the unbearable!! I organized my dreaded and ever accumulating pile of rejected jewelry projects. Bracelets I made years ago before I had any idea what I was doing. Necklaces that were never finished. Earrings that never became a pair. Strands of beads that I forgot I had purchased. 6 years of misfit beads!

I have wanted to do this for so long, but dreaded the idea of sitting down and committing to what I knew was going to be such a mindless and tedious task. I don't even know how it started last night. I just started. It was a Saturday night without plans and I was too exhausted from a fun filled day of learning how to ride a motorcycle to make any. Instead I watched old, cheesy horror flicks and tackled the pile. I cannot tell you how satisfied I was to accomplish this task. I had tried once before but I kept thinking I wanted to keep everything as it was and repair or finish each of the projects. I didn't want to throw away the time I had already spent on making them. Or admit to myself that some were just not appealing enough to complete. Last night I was in the right mindset. I know that my style and technique have taken a vast detour from my earlier projects so it was time to put them all to rest. It was time to take the beads and put them back into the box so that they could become part of another, better piece that will actually be worn and appreciated. My whole work space feels better to me without this box of rejects hanging around taunting me. Ahhhhhh!!!! It's done!

Someday I would like to reorganize my actual bead storage boxes. I buy containers as my collection grows so it has become somewhat of a mix-matched method. I started boxing by color scheme but at the time I didn't have a lot of beads. I admittedly was not thinking ahead and I certainly wasn't dreaming my inventory would grow to the size it has. In the beginning I organized rows by color not boxes by color. So I ended up with boxes containing pinks, purples and reds. Now I could devote an entire box to just shades of pink. So what has happened as my collection has grown is that I end up with several boxes containing several different colors. The box that started out greens, blues and teals has grown into 3 boxes filled with each color because I have had to add spillover boxes over the years. I'd like to just dig in and separate those 3 into the designated color.

Do I really want to sit down and do this?? Do I really want to add that many more boxes? If I keep going at this rate the box count will inevitably grow anyway so I might as well start organizing them now while it is still somewhat of a manageable task. I know I will be grateful down the road. Do I even want to organize by color or do I want to group them by style and texture? Is the idea way too obsessive compulsive to be considered anything other than just anal retentive? Why can't I just be satisfied that I conquered the reject pile for now?! It's a domino effect as always...

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Vacations always come and go way too fast.

Catching up on the latest issue of Belle Armoire Jewelry.
This past week I went on my annual trip to the beach with my sister. We have been coming to this beach with the family for as long as I can remember, but as I became older the trips became fewer and further between. A few years ago my sister and I decided to start going down to the family condo again. It began as a sisters weekend while we were both single, and as our lives have changed over the years, so has the vacation. Last year she was pregnant during our vacation and we sat on the beach talking about how different and wonderful things were going to be next year with a little one. I could not wait to bring my baby niece with us. So finally this year came. Waking up to her sweet, smiling face every morning was exactly what I needed right now. I was so excited  to watch her experience the sand and the water, to see it all for the first time through her little eyes. It reminded me of all of the trips we have taken there through the years with the family. I have always looked forward to this trip, but now I know every year will be even better. I felt like I have been waiting my whole life for this little girl to join us. As you get older you forget about some of the fun things you did at the beach as a child. Now I have an excuse to play in the sand, feed the seagulls and run around the boardwalk from ride to ride.

Beading on the beach...?

While I was packing I really considered bringing some of my beads with me. I love the beach and I always feel very calm and relaxed which is the perfect mode for being creative. It would be a shame not to be able to tap into this source while the creativity was flowing. My sister also likes rummaging through my beads and creating a "wish list". But I decided that would be ridiculous since I have way too many boxes of beads to make them mobile, and I didn’t want to burn myself out. I deserved a break even if it was from something I love to do. Instead I packed up all of the jewelry magazines I have been meaning to sit down and read along with a notebook so I could sketch out any design ideas as they hit me. It was perfect, sitting by the ocean catching up on some of my favorite jewelry magazines. I felt refreshed and motivated to return home and begin working on some new projects. Even though sometimes you may be reluctant, you always need to take a break. I love making jewelry so the idea of bringing some beads with me didn’t feel like something I had to do because I was behind on projects, I wanted to bring them because I am admittedly obsessed. I was going to one of my favorite places with some of my favorite people and I wanted to bring some of my favorite things. I am glad that I allowed myself to take a breather. Everyone needs to recharge from time to time.