Friday, April 23, 2010

Lampwork pricing - any thoughts?

Well, I have some. This is getting to be a hot topic among many lampwork beadmakers and everyone has their opinions and input. The debate is whether or not some lampworkers are cheapening all of us and destroying the marketplace by grossly underpricing their work, just to make sales in this poor economy.

It's true - there are a LOT of cheap beads out there right now. The market's glutted with unanealled, sub-par sweatshop garbage from China that cracks when you breath on it. There are also piles of bad lampwork from amatuers who are just out to make a buck and care nothing about the quality of their product.

Then, there are the rest of us.

Those of us who do this for a living by choice - because we love this ancient artform and because the worst day behind the torch is better than the best day behind a desk. We don't do it to get rich, that's for damn sure. We do it because the passion to create in this meduim - to grow and learn and innovate - is something so strong that it just won't be denied.

And, yes, lot's of us do also earn our living from this passion. We pay for our kids braces, pet vaccinations, autism treatment, food and rent with the money we earn. And so, because we must earn, we must price according to what the market will bear.


This is an example of how the market has changed. The first set of beads sold for nearly 10x the price that the second set sold for. Same basic beads, same glass, same beadmaker, same sales venue. Whatta ya gonna do?

Believe me, I don't want my work under-valued any more than the next person. I know how hard this work is, how many hours I spend in my hot studio in the relentless (almost endless) Florida summer with sweat running down my face, pouring water down my throat as fast as I can to make up the difference. I know how much time and effort and love I put into each bead I make and I know the cost and quality of the materials I use.

However, I also know that there's a jewelry designer out there somewhere who's struggling in this economy, too. And I understand that this is a partnership. She loves making jewelry as much as I love making beads but if she can't sell her designs, then she can't buy more beads. If she can't buy my beads, then I can't keep making them. Then we both end up in a cubicle somewhere, browsing Etsy on our lunchbreak, thinking to ourselves, "That used to be me." (I'm actually thinking, "I coulda been a contender" but that's a movie reference I'm not sure everyone is going to be able to recall and I don't want people thinking I'm all crazy and stuff.)

That's just not an option for me. I'd rather cut prices in half for now (and I have) to make this work than to go back to 9 to 5-ing it.

So, in order to keep this machine running until the economy rights itself, we're going to have to work together. Beadmakers need to keep prices fair and reasonable - without trying to undercut the competition - and designers need to hang in there and stick with high-quality artisan work instead of jumping ship for the cheap stuff, no matter how tempting it might be.

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts on this issue.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Latest tip

Never, under any circumstances - even if your garage studio is well over 90 degrees and you feel like you're going through 'The Change' - should you sit down at the torch in shorts and a tank top.


omg, my leg hurts...that's the shockiest glass I've ever used...I look like I've got chicken pox! Where the hell did I put that aloe vera last summer?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Officially flip-flop season!

This is, of course, a pointless announcement to me due to the fact that I always wear flip-flops. Unless I'm going out - in which case I delve deep into my shoe stash for a pair of my fabulous but rarely seen in public, super-expensive strappy sandals. This almost never happens anymore.
It's sad, really.

Anyway, in celebration of the season, I've loaded up my Etsy shop with several sets of flip-flop beads. These are made to order, too, so if you like them but want them in a different color combo, just let me know and I'll whip them up for you.

Speaking of whipping things up... When the weather turns perfect like it has this week, we sort of move outdoors to enjoy the fleeting moment of weather perfection. Spring in Florida is sunny and breezy, the birds are everywhere, the air is warm but dry. It's like Southern California, only green!

So, when the weather lightens up, so does the food. It seems like we eat seafood at least three times a week and shrimp is one of our favorites. So, I thought I'd share one of my 'go-to' shrimp recipes. It's super simple, really an awesome little marinade that adds just enough flavor to taste, but not overpower.
It's really versatile, too. You can cook them up and serve them as a 'peel and eat', you can skewer and grill them, you can throw them in with pasta or rice (or if you're a true southerner, toss them on top of a nice pile of grits, cheesy or otherwise).

Corona Lime Marinade

1 tbs.olive oil

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tbs. minced garlic

1 tsp. Old Bay or Adobo

1 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro

3-4 shakes of crushed red pepper ( I use a little more 'cause I like hot stuff!)

salt and pepper to taste

Whisk your ingredients and then add

1/3 cup Corona

Pour it into a plastic freezer bag or dish with a cover. Add 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp that has been peeled and deveined, but with the tails intact. Stir it together so everything is coated and then pop it in the fridge for about an hour.

If you decide to grill it, then, that's it. Throw it in a griller pan or onto some bamboo skewers and cook it up in less than five minutes.

But, if you decide to make it in a skillet, you're in for a nice surprise. Just pour it into your wok or skillet - marinade and all - with a little plop of butter and cook very quickly, just until it pinks up. The marinade thickens and you'll end up with a gorgeous, saucy pile of shrimp that's heaven on it's own, over angel hair, linguine, rice, in a salad - really, whatever you want to buddy it up it with.

It has such a fresh flavor with just a hint of spicyness. Yumm!!! I think I'll make this tonight.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I hate to laugh, but....

I stayed up too late last night watching stand-up acts on YouTube. I'm not much of a YouTube utilizer, but there are certain videos and comedians that I can only catch there - like one of my favorites, Russell Brand. He's been touched by the American PR wand lately because of his whole link-up with Katy Perry of whom I am not a particular fan. Not a hater, just lukewarm on her work, I guess. I mean, 'I kissed a girl..." and all that? Well, um, who hasn't? kidding

I only became familiar with Brand a couple of years ago when he snatched the spotlight from that formulaic comedy super-star, Adam Sandler in 'Bedtime Stories'. After I watched that movie (with my kids, obviously), I had to come home and look him up. PRONTO!

He has the same dark-eyed sexiness with a quirky twist that Johnny Depp has, only without the sometimes awkward-making level of intensity (plus, Russell Brand is considerably taller). He's slick and witty, but also quite honest and self-effacing in his humor.

In fact, there are times in his act when I feel uncomfortable about laughing. Yes, I am aware that laughing is the point of it and he's very cool and beautiful and sexy and 'most stylish' and 'best shagger' and all, but he also has this vulnerability that makes me feel bad - like he was maybe a dorky kid and he's overcompensating for it now. I sometimes end up feeling like I'm laughing at him and not with him. I don't like laughing at other people - it makes me feel bad.

image courtesy of:

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Poor indeed is the garden in which birds find no homes.
- Abram L. Urban

Thursday, April 1, 2010

What's hot?

My torch, my kiln and my studio, that's what! I've been working like crazy the last couple of weeks. Nothing like taking a month off to recharge the creative batteries.

I decided to list some of my Organic Essentials on eBay this week, just to see what might happen. I'll be adding a couple of more sets and a handful of focals throughout the weekend, so check back!

I've thrown some new things into my Etsy shop as well. Come by and take a peek.

And, because you're such good readers, I'll tell you a little secret - I'm listing SIX new small sets of beachy and BoHo beads in my shop tonight. And guess what...they'll all have free shipping to celebrate summer. Yes, it's summer here now and I'm in a fantastalistic mood. All that sunshine, ya know.

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