Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Finding Your Wow

by Staci Louise Smith

I feel very blessed by this creative journey I have taken, and am currently walking.  I have had many wonderful people in my life, who have shared business information, creative wisdom and even crafting tips with me.  This, in part, is why I feel drawn to sharing what I know (be it much or little) with you all.  Pay it forward.  It fulfills me to share what has been shared with me.  In the end, I hope you all can find the joy that I have found, by creating from the heart.
 
One particular artist, took extra time with me, for which I am very grateful.  Let me give you a little background.
 
When I started making jewelry, I basically strung beads

what I made to sell

what I made for ME

Gemstones and pearls were my main focus.  I have always loved rocks and minerals, and so, my designs were mostly just a way to wear the pretty stones.  I started doing shows within a year of making jewelry, and the competition was harsh.  Everyone had gemstone jewelry for sale.
 
 
Now, in my heart, I wanted to make wild, big, asymmetrical silver jewelry, but little old me had young, young, young, kids (like, I was still having them as I progressed- doing shows while pregnant and all) and didn't have the means to be making my own components and such.
 
So, I found ways to make jewelry that was a little different and had an edge, but still, was something the average person would want to wear.  I'd make crazier things for myself............


 semi-crazy design, somewhere between what I'd make for me and what I'd make to sell

 crazier design I'd make for myself

chunky necklace- super chunky and asymmetrical
 
 
and I'd get comments all the time- like, "that is wonderful on you, but I'd never wear it".  And those comments scared me, and kept me making what I thought people wanted, instead of what I wanted to be making.
 
I wanted so badly to get into PMC (precious metal clay), but didn't think anyone would pay enough to cover my costs.  My average piece of jewelry was $35.  I am pretty sure I made NO money at this at all for years.
 
Enter Marlee Page of Floating World Design.  A mutual friend introduced us at a beautiful art show (Tinicum Arts Fest PA).  I was in love her work immediately. 
 
Marlee's Faux Bone Pendants

A Mixed media piece by Marlee

seed bead mosaic pendant by Marlee

PMC fern imprint pendant by Marlee
 
I immediately felt a connection with her, and with her work.  I could see her in each and every piece she made.  There was cohesion, there was passion, there was peace.  Her art spoke to who she was and is as an artist, as a person.  It was bold, and fearless. I was / am a fan for life.
 
And- turns out, she is REALLY nice.  I mean, give you the shirt off her back kind of nice.  And she saw something in me and my work.  And she encouraged me to take it where my heart wanted it to go.  To design for me, and not for my customers.
 
I began to see that she did well at shows, regardless of the price tag, as long as it was something unique and true.  That gave me courage to pursue my hearts designs. 
 
I took the jump into silver clay, and began to make my own silver components.  I started out making some little charms, but quickly jumped into bigger stuff.

earring charms in PMC

 larger keshi bloom- became a signature style for me



 keshi swirls and wire


Full Moon- available in my etsy shop- one of my first PMC designs, and still one of my favorites

my winged hearts took flight the silver was at an all time low- cause they are large!

Marlee also openly shared with me tips on making jewelry (she taught me to solder).  She made her own chain and clasps, and openly shared new ideas with me.  Completely handmade was where I also wanted to be.   
 
I was extremely happy, and having fun creating.  At my next show, I had about 20% artsy PMC pieces, and about 30% artsy wire work in silver. 

samples of my crazy wire work and gemstones






The rest was gemstones, since I was hesitant to not have "what usually sells for me".  Well, needless to say, I sold the artsy stuff.  Not the gemstones. 
 
I remember that show perfectly clear.  Marlee walked into my tent and told me she saw a definite style in everything.  That every piece was me.  Coming from her, that meant the world. 
 
I never looked back.  I found my voice, my wow.  From that day forward, I only made things that I would wear- and that I loved.  Since that change, my business has been more successful then ever. 
 
 You see, when people invest in art, they are investing in the artist- YOU.  We, as artists, we are complex- deep- empathetic- unique- people.  We see things differently, we feel things differently.  When someone buys from us, they are buying OUR perception of things, because they wouldn't have seen it that way themselves. 

I love this quote- it really sums it up.

 
 
 
So I encourage you, to find your wow.  To create from your heart, from your soul.  To share the universe as you see it.  Stop over thinking it.  Stop making what you think people want.  You have something inside you, a wow, just waiting to come out and connect with someone. 

I leave you with a quote from my friend Marlee- such wisdom. 

 "We listen to what speaks inside us and that doesn't come from outside expectations. And the bonus is that people love what you do  in the end, so by creating for you, you have made what people wanted, right? They just didn't know it until you made it. " -Marlee Page

(see why I adore her?)
 
Now, be brave, and go find your wow!
 


21 comments:

Sherri Stokey said...

Excellent post!

Kristi Harrison said...

This is a truly amazing article. It was fun to see your style evolve and to have a mentor in Marlee. I found this very inspiring...touching.

There are so many artists out there who are afraid to share how they do things or provide ways to others of doing things better.

Marlee is a great example of being a true artist, not feeling threatened, and willing to bring out the best in people.

Sounds like you found a wonderful friend and mentor and your work shows it! Your pieces are truly one of kind, and the love shows through.

Erika said...

I love this post, Staci Lou! And I'm drooling over your jewelry, and Marlee's too. Thanks for sharing your progress via the photos. I agree with everything you said in your post.

Linda Y said...

WoW (no pun intended), this was a powerful post. It really describes where I'm at in my jewelry making. I still haven't found my WOW but I loved this. Thanks for sharing.

KayzKreationz said...

What a great post. I love your friend's pieces and your work, too. I'm going to my first craft/jewelry show this next weekend and hope someone likes my pieces. I have such an eclectic style/feel, that I've never really tried to sell my jewelry, but I can't ever figure out what people would like, so I usually just end up making things I like and then letting them sit around. This has inspired me. Maybe someone will want some of my jewelry at the show. Thanks for the post.

Michelle Mach said...

So true! Loved seeing the photo progression of your work.

Tammie Everly said...

Hmmm... this is EXACTLY what I have been struggling with the last few months..... bookmarking this so I can refer back to it as inspiration.... Thanks Staci for sharing ....and giving me some courage to maybe do what I ought to be doing, not what I think others think I should be doing...

Karen McGovern said...

Well said, Staci! I think one of the most challenging hurdles for many artists is "finding your voice". Creating something that truly reflects your ethic and inspiration without worrying whether what you make will "sell". Creating according to anyone's vision but your own leads nowhere. Individuality speaks VOLUMES!

NuminosityBeads said...

What a great post, Staci! I love seeing people's journeys in creating and this post definitely resonates with me and my own journey. I love seeing your older pieces and your evolution is astounding!

sandi m said...

Great post Staci - thanks for sharing. How lucky you were to find such a wise mentor. Fun to see where your creative journey has taken you. So much more rewarding to follow your voice and not someone else's.

Courtney said...

What a wonderful, thoughtful post. Thank you! This speaks to me very clearly right now. :)

TesoriTrovati said...

Oh...wow...
These words are piercing my heart today, Miss Staci. You are that artist that I admire, your fierceness, your fearlessness, your faith in what you are creating. To have that sort of mentor in your friend Marlee (who is a true sage) is so rare. I love what you both have said. This is a marvelous post and has given me much to ponder, particularly since I have been struggling with just this thing for some time now. I am bookmarking this to digest these words and see how they tumble out of me. Thank you for the heartfelt inspiration today. Enjoy the day! Erin

Kristin Oppold said...

Wonderful story!!!!!!! I am definitely at that time in my art that my want and need to make what I love and what comes from within really screams loudly. I suppose that is why I am not a big fan of custom work. I am happy to do it if I have the creative freedom but it gives me no joy to have that freedom be micromanaged. I am still searching and have so much to learn. My first love is design. I am not the most patient person for creating my own components but what I know is that it gives an individual edge to it. Love you work Staci, I find it ever inspiring.

Lela said...

I feel like this post was meant for me today. I've been struggling to get back to the bench & I had finally decided (just a couple days ago) that it was because I didn't want to make mainstream items - I wanted to make ART. China can make all the mainstream stuff - I need to *create*

Thank you, Staci - btw: I loved seeing your progression & I love your big, silver work. It's gorgeous!

Carol Dean Sharpe said...

Thank you for a wonderful post, Staci. ;) It's wonderful to see the progression in your work, to watch you find your voice, your vision.

Patti Vanderbloemen said...

Well said...both in words and pictures!

Klassy Joolz said...

What a perfectly wonderful post. It so hits home. So happy that you shared this with all of us! Love your work and your talent and you are so blessed to have such mentor in Marlee. I hope that I can find my WOW some day!

Shel said...

What a lovely post Staci! I can see why you love Marlee and her jewelry - both are beautiful. Your jewelry is so unique, so very cool, so very you! Thank you for sharing your story with us - it's very touching and inspirational. I find it more difficult these days, as opposed to when I first started designing, to design from my heart - so many moods, so many voices, so many mediums! ;-) But in the end, when I let myself go and get in the 'zone', I create what I would wear, what I would purchase and what other people want (and purchase),... just like Marlee said. Thanks for sharing.

Sharyl said...

So absolutely true, Staci! Wonderful article and jewelry!

Corrie Lyn said...

I got directed here after posting about this dilemma on Facebook. THANK YOU!!!!!

Geeske Hogenhuis said...

I know this is an old topic, but I just found your blog today and totally love it! Thank you so much for this blogpost!! Just what I needed to push through and go for what I really want to wear and make myself! I will definitely be following your blog from now on!

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