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Bead Fest Texas Report~The Buisness of Lampworking

Hey guys! Bet you thought I forgot all about you didn’t you? Nope. I’ve just been busy writing Witches of Bourbon Street, but I’m taking a break to give you the skinny on Bead Fest Texas.

This was the second year Bead Fest was held in Arlington, and my first year doing this particular show. In comparison to Bead Fest Philly it was much smaller. I’d say about a third of forth the amount of vendors as Philly.

The good:

It’s pretty close to me. It took eight hours to drive each way. Going I had my friend Susan Sheehan with me, so it seemed much shorter, especially since she drove most of the way. Our other friend Lisa Liddy was a vendor there, so for us it was kind of a girls weekend in addition to working the show.

The show was low cost (relative to the other ones I do).

I had a great day sales wise on Friday. (It’s a three day show). Easily my best one day total in a very long time. I had high hopes after Friday, let me tell you.

There were quite a few less vendors than I’m used to, so less competition which is always nice.

The bad:

We had to pay five dollars a day parking.

I had an artist’s table, which means one eight foot table (pretty standard). But all the artists tables were butted up against each other. I’d say there were twelve to fifteen tables all lined up with no room to get to the other side of the table. We had to trek all the way down to the end to get around to the other side. It wasn’t very convenient.

Perhaps the most unfortunate issue was the show was the same weekend as the World Series. The ballpark was literally right next door. The Rangers and Cardinals played both Saturday and Sunday night. To add insult to injury the Cowboys football games was Sunday at 3 pm.  Needless to say, Sunday was a snooze fest. I’m sure we lost many possible shoppers who were afraid of crowds and issues with parking. Luckily for those who did come out there was designated Bead Fest parking. However, if one didn’t brave it, they wouldn’t know that.

The good news is I made more than my formula on Friday, so the show was certainly successful for me. I’ll definitely be back next year.

Formula:

Table fee + electricity + travel fee + $100 a day I’m out of my studio (traveling, packing, manning my booth) = Amount  I have to make to consider the show successful.

Next show: Houston Bead Society November, 11, 12, 13. Only Greg is handling this one. I have a book to finish.

Let The Steaming Begin

Yesterday I blogged about the bees yellow jackets in our backyard. Yes we thought they were bees.

You see, we have some huge wasps that live around here that we are constantly battling with, so when we saw these little guys, we assumed they were bees. And if so, we didn’t want to kill them off. However, with the help of a friend and a kind person who stopped by the blog, we were informed they are indeed yellow jackets.

Okay, now we need to get rid of them. Otherwise we’ll never mow or go outside. We can’t have that. Greg promptly looked up the best way to eliminate the little buggers. Since he didn’t think pouring gasoline down the hole was a good idea(you just have to shake your head at that one) , we’ve opted for steaming them.

Glass bowl, 100 degree temps hopefully=no more wasps. Greg covered the hole last night. Supposedly this method is supposed to take a few days to work since it cuts them off from food. But it’s so hot, it looks like they’ll be fried long before that.

This morning there were quite a few trapped in the top of the bowl and they were not all happy about it. We’ll let you know how it goes. If it works it was by far the easiest and most natural way to get rid of them. Cross your fingers.

 

Happy Holidays!

I know, I have been a terrible blogger lately.  Please don’t hate me.  Seriously, I have been one busy girl these last six months. First, let me start by thanking all of you, my loyal customers, since part of the reason I have been silent is all the time I have spent making beads.  Business is still strong enough to keep us going and more times than not I have custom orders to fill.  In these economic times, Greg and I both feel very lucky and blessed to have such wonderful and caring clients.

I bet you didn’t know that come December 29th it will be our five year anniversary of making beads and marbles full time.  That’s right, in the last five years we haven’t worked for anyone but ourselves.  And you of course. So Thank You! The time has flown by and we were just remarking today about how our time spent at our last jobs, which was roughly about five years also, seemed like an enternity while we were there. Neither of us could imagine going back.  So here’s to the next five years.  Catch ya online (or if you are in Tuscon this February at Best Bead stop by and say hi.  We’d love to meet you).

I didn’t believe…

Really, I didn’t.  In fact I mocked the weather forcast.  Greg said, “look it’s says it’s going to snow.”

I said.  “Ya right.”  Whatever.

Yesterday morning, I was woken up my my dear hubby at 6:30 am.  Ya, you read that right.  I don’t get up at 6:30.  Ever.  Try between 8 and 9.  It did snow and it was sticking to the cars.  So I had to take pictures to prove to you it snowed right?  (I live in South East Louisiana.  It just doesn’t snow here, or so I thought.)

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By 7am our power was out.  Knocked out my a tree limb across the street.

By 10 am, the house and property looked like this:

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Pretty right?  ya, I thought so too.  Except I was freezing!  I spent all day wrapped up in bed under the blankets.  Having no heat sucks.  It finally came back on at 11 pm last night.  Thank fate.

So we still have snow and it looks like this today:

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That last picture is our neighbors house.  Hers is still pretty.

Making a living as a lampworker

After checking my blog stats this morning (Yes, Lisa, I do check them every now and then..LOL), I came across the search term “Can someone make a living at lampworking?”.  The short answer is yes, but (there is always a but right?), it takes a lot of work and discipline.

I thought I would give you some insights of what it is like doing this full time.

First, to make a sole living being an artist, one needs to be disciplined.  You need to be self motivated.  There isn’t a boss to please, no time clock to punch, no annual salary increases, and no attractive benefits package.  On the up side, there isn’t a time clock to punch, no boss breathing down your back, you don’t have to commute, assuming your studio is in your home, and you can take time off anytime you want.

The things you have to ask yourself is:  Am I motivated enough to work enough to cover my bills?  Do I have the gumption to stick it out when things are not selling well?  Can I handle the rejection that comes with no sales a few days in a row, or even after a week?  Am I disciplined enough to keep building inventory, when I get discouraged?

Some people thrive when left to their own devises and some people don’t.  This isn’t a criticism in any way shape or form, it is just something everyone needs to learn about themselves.

So if you have decided working for yourself is the way to go, read on and I will give you an overview of what my life is like.

Actual torching time:  About five hours a day, five days a week.

Computer time (editing pictures, loading auctions, updating the website, answering emails)  Note:  We do not work the show circuit, only do online sales, so keep that in mind.  Shows vs online sales will probably be my next post.  I list four to five new things on ebay, one new thing on Justbeads, one to two things on etsy and a daily special on the website Sunday through Friday:  Roughly two to three hours a day six days a week.

Shipping duties:  About two hours a day three days a week, including running to the post office.

Then there is the random promoting on forums and blogs.  And the record keeping.  I am the accountant around here, not my favorite job ever.

Greg does the studio stuff for me, dipping mandrels and cleaning beads.  If you know me, you know I hate, hate, hate, dipping mandrels and cleaning beads.  In fact my friend Shawn banned me from dipping mandrels, I was so bad at it.  I know, I know, I am spoiled.  At least I am aware.  Greg also takes the photos for the beads and marbles.  Its only fair, I do all of the rest of the computer work.

Alright, so that is what happens on a day to day basis.  Now, you are probably wondering how is the money? How much can someone make doing this?  While I won’t tell you how much we actually make, I will give you a few details on how we live, and you can make a determination from there.  Keep in mind, Greg my hubby is also a full time artist, so we have two artists income here.

We live in South East Louisiana, in a very small town, median home price for houses on our street are probably roughly around $125,000.  We bought our house last year.

We do not have kids.

I drive a used car, a 2003 Nissen Altima, purchased in January.  Hubby has a 1971 VW bus.

We pretty much pay cash for everything, or at least pay off the cc at the end of each month.  We don’t have any student loans, cc debit, second mortgages, or anything like that.

We do most of the house repairs ourselves.  Greg is pretty handy, and I can be depending on the project.

We have been here a year and still don’t have a dining room table or bedroom furniture, just the bed and plastic storage drawers for dressers.  Sure, I could go on craigslist or visit garage sales for some extra furniture, but after living in the rv for four years, we’ve learned to make do.  Hopefully the table is coming at the end of this month.  The bedroom, well that will wait.

Trips to Glasstock, The ISGB Gathering, and other bead retreats are usually out of our range as far as what we can afford to do.  I could probably make it happen, but for both of us to go, is a huge expense.

We have been on ebay for years.  We have powerseller status, Bronze is averaging over $1000 a month and Silver is averaging over $3000 a month.  We fluctuate between the two.  We also have sales on etsy, justbeads and the website.

So yes it is possible. I really only know a handful of people who make their actual sole living off of lampworking.  Most of my buddies have a spouse who brings in the primary paycheck, or they themselves work a day job and treat their lampworking business as a second job.

A Brand New Room!

This last week the guest room got a make over.  We are calling it the guest room, but really it is MY room.  I am thinking of moving in there.  Poor Greg, he’ll never see me anymore.

So here is the before picture (and let me just say, I Hated this room.  Really.  Couldn’t stand it.  Never went in it.  I think I was actually a little afraid of it.  And the indoor outdoor carpet the previous owners put in had stains and smelled Bad.  You get the picture.  I HATED this room.)

Yes, the room is a bowling alley.  It’s something like 6 feet wide and 28 feet long.  It use to be the back porch in a previous life.  I think the previous owners used it as an office, judging by the insane amount of cable and electrical outlets it had.  And the florescent six feet long shop lights.  ICK!

Okay, so this is the transformation:

Greg built the cozy nook and put in the carpet and I painted every square inch of the room.  It took me three straight days and man o man, was I tired when I was done.  I don’t mind painting one bit, but all that raw wood just sucked up the paint and it took forever.

But I am very pleased, as is my dog Disney.  She thinks it is the best room in the house.  She just likes the carpet.  The rest of the house is hardwood floors.  She’s slips around a lot on them.  She LOVES carpet.  So it’s my retreat/reading room now and clearly my favorite place in the house.  My favorite room use to be my office.  A very soothing sage green room, complete with my desk top computer.  Sorry office, you’ve been upstaged.  🙂