by Jennifer VanBenschoten
|"Earth Angel" Bead embroidery with Carnelian and Amethyst, sold at a science fiction convention in 2009|
A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to submit some of my best beadwork for inclusion in a publication by Lark Books. The deadline came up pretty fast, and I had to get eight pieces of beadwork packed and shipped off to the photographer in the same day. As I sorted through my current inventory and the finished beadwork that I've kept for myself over the years, I realized that I haven't kept any of the really spectacular pieces of beadwork that I've made in the last two or three years!
I was a little heartbroken when I realized that some of my favorites - with focal pieces by Lisa Peters Art and Artisan Clay - are no longer in my own collection. But there's some satisfaction in knowing that they went to customers who will no doubt appreciate and care for them.
Once upon a time in our house, whenever I made a piece of beadwork, my husband would look at the finished piece and inevitably say, "So, are you going to sell that?" To which I would roll my eyes and tell him that I would have to think about it. Then when I relied on selling my finished beadwork and glass beads and pendants for my income right after I had my son, there was never any question in my mind: when I finished a piece, it would go out on my tables at the next farmer's market or craft show.
|A keishi pearl necklace that I made as a gift to myself. I'm NOT selling this one!|
But still, I had certain standards for selling a piece. First of all, the piece had to be PERFECT. And I mean perfect - no loose threads or threads showing on the beadwork, no beads out of place, comfortable to wear, no sharp edges on any of the fused glass, and all my bead holes had to be completely cleaned of bead release.
I also wanted to make sure that I wasn't duplicating the work of anyone else. Obviously, it's never okay, ethically or legally, to sell a piece of beadwork that you didn't design without the artist's permission. That said, I just make it a rule that if I make up a piece of beadwork from someone else's design or pattern, I just won't sell it.
And then there's always the emotional factor. If I get too attached to a piece of beadwork, I won't sell it. Last summer, just for the heck of it, I started putting out this square stitch choker that I called "The Thief". There's a story behind this piece: I started it a couple of years after the bead shop I owned with two partners fell apart. I worked on that piece for hours at night while working at various jobs that I didn't really enjoy to soothe myself after bad days at work. I finished it, adding the fringe, right after I found out I was pregnant with my son, when the exhaustion early in the pregnancy was so bad that I felt as though I could barely lift my arm to pull the needle through the beads.
Well, last summer, I set it out at my first "big" art show over at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. I wasn't expecting too many sales that day, since it was a sort of cold and overcast day and there weren't many customers. Imagine my surprise when a woman, another artist, came over to my table and picked it up. She asked if she could try it on, and as soon as I saw her wearing it, I knew that I had made this necklace for her. She looked perfect in it! All it needed was a little adjustment in the length, which I did in just a few minutes while she shopped at the nearby farmer's market.
While I was thrilled to see that piece find a good home (and was equally as thrilled with the balance in my bank account after its sale, since it was easily the most expensive piece on my table) it still made me a little sad to see that part of my life moving on. Given the chance now, I'm not so sure that I would have sold the piece.
Do you ever find yourself growing emotionally attached to your creations? How do you handle it? Do you make yourself sell every single piece that you create, or do you allow yourself to keep some good pieces for yourself to enjoy?