As artists we've been there, that awkward moment when you hear, "How much will you knock off" on your one-of-a-kind creation. I have several (said with a smile) one-liners at the ready for these moments, such as, "Are you inquiring about a wholesale account" or when pressed, the snarkier "Hmmm, you'd like me to discount my already less than minimum wage salary?"
I'm not against the art of the deal. We haggle on real estate. Cars. At a flea market. In many cultures it's expected. But there's something about the juried art show that's a benefit for underprivileged children, where participants pay a fee to enter and vendors donate a percentage of their sales to the cause that knocks off kilter even my expectant disenchantment. In this case, it's two matching but unique hand-molded glass lampshades (count the production hours) priced as a duo that are not greated with inquisition, a complement or even the courtesy of a response to "hello" but with a blunt, "Can you do better on the pair?"
Pat responses don't do this justice.
It started off the regular way, a group checking out my space, no eye contact, repeated visits, your business card scooped up like a secret file in "Mission Impossible." But here's the blue sky: I recognize the Negotiator as my paperboy from days gone by. The one who would stand on my porch, laser beam eye contact, a wonderul smile, chatting away. He was great at his job.
Finally that winning grin, as I remind him of how fondly I remember him, sharing my thoughts with his family and confirming, "I did tip you well for your service?"..."Yes you did."
Negotiations ended without a sale as my patrons quietly left the booth promising to stay in touch, which is ok as I truly did not want to sell those lamps. In my opinion, they're some of my best work and look great on my mantel where they'll stay with a story to tell.
My paperboy is now a successful internet mogul. I am an artist that will continue to do better.
April 1, 2013
March 27, 2013
December 26, 2012
Things are going pretty well this year considering the aggressive cancer treatment my Dad's been nailing out of the park. A good friend my age also battles the same cancer as my Dad, they share it like playmates, both of them are incredible--I have no room to complain AT ALL. So many others I know are having very dark holidays. So even when the kids have their imperfect moments, I step back to breath...they can shock you with an early college admission...a scholarship!...and an "I love you"...and I thank God for the blessings.
One of those has been a layoff (the one that happened after I came back from the Federally sanctioned Family Leave Act after helping my folks) which forced my hand to consider my Art as a full time business. It still feels like cheating, and pays nothing like that day job did, but boy is it rewarding. Then came that last minute custom Christmas order, the one you know you're stretching to do, but hey, I'll get it done. It was for Eternabeads, the custom beads I make with, yes, cremate. And the deceased was fond of trains.
The tone of the request led me to believe it was a puppy that passed, one that loved to chase after locomotives. My Eternabead communication with customers is a bit more detailed than my regular glass commision sales, and the requester was surfing the web and found my site a few weeks back. She asked me short and sweet if I could make her beads with a train. Sure!
Then the perfect storm: Slow mail and overlapping commitments. The beads I can roll in my sleep suddenly stall as my printer goes out. I can't add the design. Thinking the customer will understand, I drop her a note with some alternatives. After two days I start to get a bit fidgety, it's now a week before Christmas and I haven't heard back from her. I Google her for a phone number, but come up empty. I try to email again, as I still don't know who the beads actually are...then comes the reply: My customer is in tears.
And she's sweet like an angel. These beads are her husband, and they are for her daughters. Is there anything I can do for now? Now I'm crying. I ring up anyone who could possibly have the one-of-a-kind printer it takes to make the images. I email acquaintances, but it's Christmas weekend. In desperation I call the manufacturer of the paper that I use to print the images, a long shot. I beg, and Nicole from http://www.diamondtechglass.com who's experienced the longest, twisted whine of the century not only sends me the images printed from their printer, they arrive on Christmas Eve. By the day after Christmas, the beads were completed and sent out to the customer.
In the mean time, I sent her beads with a temporary tattoo of the image so that she would had something to give her daughters. She loved them, and her email again made me weep.
So much nonsense in the attitudes many (including myself) hold around Christmas. All it takes is a "train that could" and a few earthling angels to really get it. And I left the ceramic tree in it's box, we have grander fir about.
Happy New Year...love!
September 12, 2012
|An earlier interview with Jen Cushman focused on the “art-to-market” spectrum where a passion grows from a hobby to becoming a published expert. Along that path are life steps that I felt needed some more exploration, such as the balance of raising a family while defining your style as an artist.|
That was eight years ago, and three children later Kris owns and manages Noodlesaurus Glass Studio where she works and trains others. She’s also the Mid-Atlantic regional director for the International Society of Glass Bead Makers.
CS: Kris, we’ve know each other from our Penn Dragons days. As an artist, how did creating glass beads become your primary passion and focus?
KS: Growing up I was exposed to numerous art mediums--paint, paper, fabric. I learned to sew on my grandmother’s tredle Singer and to crochet when I was six. I made quilts, did needle point, strung seed bead bracelets and painted canvas, but glass--WOW!!!---what a captivating medium. The ability to take a solid and convert it into a semi-liquid, alter its shape and color then allow it to cool back to a solid. The rich gem tone color palette is one of the biggest things that drew me into glass as well as the ability to layer it to get cast shadows and create depth. Melting glass seems to have centered my creativity as I design mini works of art inside of each bead. I love to create beads that appear to glow from within or have layers that shadow each other and create a new color.
CS: You took over the part of your home that for most would house their car and turned it into a studio. How did that come together?
KS: My husband and children are the center of my world, so it just seemed natural to have the studio here as well. Being a creative spirit, I have to create every day. Having converted half of our garage into my studio allows me to work and to make beads but still have my family close to me. We have chosen to home school our children, so my schedule varies with my husband’s work schedule. Having the studio here at the house and being able to go out there when he gets home or when the kids are out playing gives me a lot of flexibility.
There is the safety factor as well. The kiln runs at a temperature of around 970 degrees, glass fractures and ends up on the floor and my torch mixes oxygen and propane. So it’s a place to tuck everything away.
CS: How did your signature style evolve and in retrospect, what’s worked best towards supporting the direction you’re heading in today?
KS: My goal when it comes to my style: If you found my bead on the floor at a show, you would know it was mine. So I spent a lot of time, years actually, developing my style of bead. I tried this and that, and really in hindsight was forcing a style to develop. I would say the first five years of my bead making was this way. It worked because I was able to support a wonderful organization called Beads of Courage, an art-in-medicine program for children battling serious illness. Beadmakers donate handmade beads that recognize and celebrate the courage and milestones of treatment.
Starting in late 2009, I had the opportunity to take part in Bead Fest. I shared a booth with someone at this very large event and mingled with other beadmakers who’s work I admired. They gave me this advise: “Relax, it will happen one day.” Sure enough it did. I started making round beads, honestly it was an accident as I was working on an oval bead but somehow couldn’t get the shape quite right so decided to make it round. I was in love, and I now make all of my beads perfectly round with 5-9 layers of glass in them. The shape allows me to layer and create depth in a bead. This year, in my own booth at the same show, a returning customer stopped in and said, “I saw a lady at another booth buying components to create a necklace and she had your beads, I just knew it by looking at them.”
CS: That’s a great complement, and having watched your style over the years, I still “see” you in your artwork. What’s driving you now, where will Kris be by 2015?
KS: As my style has developed, I’ve become more comfortable with my work and the quality of it. I’m doing more shows, last year two, this year eleven. Next year I’m hoping to travel out of state to do shows and visit others studios around the country to teach my style to others. As I evolve as an artist, I’d like to publish my work.
Knowing Kris and watching her talent grow, she’ll be around and heating things up for a long time.
** Photographs of Kris Schaible and Glass Beads are the exclusive intellectual property of Kris Schaible and are being reproduced for this article with her explicit written consent.