Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Shop Small

Anyone who has been taking in oxygen for the last year or so knows the economy is crap. Even the most financially solvent folks are looking for ways to spend less. Add to this the stress of school shopping and all of those associated expenses. I'm sure the last thing anyone wants to think about is holiday shopping.

I will confess, I am a scrooge. Shopping for Christmas stresses me out, the mall, the stores, the money. Does not make for tons of holiday cheer.

This year is different. I issued a challenge to myself to 1). start shopping earlier. As a card-carrying procrastinator, I could be counted on to wait until the last minute to do the bulk of my shopping. 2). Shop small.

When I say "shop small" I don't mean small gifts, I mean small business. I'm pretty sure the large stores like Target, Barnes and Noble and countless others will survive this downtrodden economy. They might not be making as much as they used to, but they will endure. It's the smaller businesses; the indie bookstores, small boutique clothing shops and the legions of online sellers who are suffering.

This post might seem slightly self-serving. As a recent small business owner myself, I could definitely use some online foot traffic, but I also have a paying full-time job. There are other small businesses out there who rely on sales for their income.

Shopping small is not just good for those businesses though. You would be surprised what you can find. If you haven't visited the online craft marketplace Etsy, you should pop over and look. On the main page, you can view recently listed items. The new stuff pops up on the screen and all you have to do is watch until something catches your eye. It is rather addictive! And there is something for almost everyone on your gift list.

Whether you shop online or visit your local stores, I'd be willing to bet that you'll find fun and interesting gifts. Something unique, and different that will be remembered (fondly, I hope!). True, there are just some things you have to buy at a big chain store, but for the others, I encourage you to shop small. If nothing else, you might discover a lot of things your friends and relations can buy for you!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Whatever Works

A friend at work asked me how I come up with designs for jewelry. She asked if I sketch them out first before I make them. I thought about it for half a second. My answer: No, it just comes to me.

This made me think about the whole "process" of creating.

That might sound flippant, but it's just how it works in my head. My process, to apply a label to it, is more organic. I look at a piece, a bead, a pendant, a broken bracelet and wait for it to inspire me. They tell me what they want to be. Sound crazy? No more than a sculptor looking at a block of granite and seeing its true form underneath. Usually, these ideas reveal themselves while I'm falling asleep. I construct the jewelry in my brain before I even grab a pair of pliers or bead wire.

This process has its own timetable. I've had certain beads for years because I just haven't found the right thing to do with it. Other things reveal their desire to be a necklace or bracelet very quickly.

The best part is when the jewelry piece I'm working on is finished and it looks like I imagined it. That is the payoff!

You might be thinking of calling a good therapist for me, but I assure you, I'm not insane. (Yet). It's the same with me and writing. The story writes itself in my brain and I'm just taking dictation. I know there are folks who work in a more concrete way. Outlines, sketches, etc. I have learned through writing and now making jewelry that what works for one writer or artist doesn't necessarily work for another. You have to find your own process and go with it, no matter what someone tells you "should" be done.

This is art. Whatever works.