My adventures in jewelry-making started about a year ago as a way to de-stress during a time of personal crisis. It was fun, and gave me a feeling of accomplishment, etc. Eventually I started to sell a few pieces here and there, and occasionally someone would say, "Why don't you sell your jewelry online or something like that?" Yeah, right, I would think. Like I don't have enough to do. So my jewelry making stayed my hobby--and a lifeline. During that time, I wasn't often able to visit a craft or bead store, so I improvised. I bought some of every type of bead that the Wal-Mart craft department had. When that became creatively stifling (our rural area Wal-Mart has a tiny crafts section!) I wandered into the jewelry section. Wal-Mart doesn't have a lot of jewelry that I would actually wear, but I had the bright idea to buy pieces that had some interesting beads or charms. I would take them apart and put them back together in creative ways. I would wear them to work, and my co-workers couldn't believe the pieces started out as cheap Wal-Mart jewelry. I ordered jewelry magazines and books online and studied them to learn new techniques.
One day last summer I finally had a Sunday off and was able to visit the craft store Michael's. Talk about heaven! Aisles and aisles of gemstones, glass beads, crystals, jewelry tools, clasps, wire, books...I carried out sacks of stuff! I had a burst of creative energy. I made about 20 different pieces to enter in the jewelry competition of the TN Valley Fair (almost all of them won a ribbon!) Then I started to work on Christmas presents. I made tons of stuff to sell and to give as presents. Then, after Christmas...I stopped. I had to clean up the house after the Christmas celebration, and things were busier than ever at work. My jewelry making materials got stuffed back in the roll-top desk I used as my tiny studio, and I basically forgot about them. Work was becoming more and more stressful. Basically, the economy was taking a huge toll on both the wallets and the manners of our clients. Not only do people let things go for far too long, but when a crisis inevitably hits, they consider it someone else's responsibility. Daily I see more and more people at their very worst. It is physically, mentally, and spiritually draining. For the past few weeks, I have been working 10 to 12 hour days, then coming home and collapsing. I was lucky to have enough motivation to wash the dishes.
Last Friday night, I went to dinner with a friend and stopped at a bookstore on the way home. A small paperback book titled "The Handmade Marketplace" called to me from a display table. I scooped it up along with all the jewelry magazines I could find--more out of habit than anything--and scurried home to do some reading. My new little book was about inspiring crafters to reach new creative heights, and how to market your creations. Maybe I was meant to find that book, I decided. What I need more than anything else is a diversion. I want to think about and do something else than work and sleep! So I decided yesterday to start a new journey of self-discovery. Elizabeth Gilbert found self-actualization in traveling, meditation (I accidentally typed medication!), and Italian food. I don't have that much spare time, and I don't like traveling anyway. So join me on my journey to discovery through jewelry!