Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Painting Versus Making Jewelry

This semester I signed up for an acrylic painting class at the Y. It was the first painting class I've taken since junior high -- and the reason why I haven't written much about it is because, frankly, I didn't really like it.

I'm trying to figure out exactly WHY I didn't care for it. Earlier in the year, I participated in a Paint-Along New York class and had a blast. Plus, the teacher at the Y was great. He was interesting, caring and encouraging, all of the things you'd want from an instructor. He never had a bad word to say to anybody, even if his or her work sucked. Some of my paintings were pretty awful, but he always found something to admire.

Still, the class itself was pretty dull. For one thing, we were all confined in our own little spaces behind our easels and tables, so no one really socialized. Yes, I get that we were there to learn, but one of the things I love about my jewelry classes is that we work AND talk. We're all incredibly busy, but have had some fascinating conversations as we make our pieces. Painting felt a lot more lonely.

I was also turned off by the cost of the class. This was a short session, only six weeks, and it was listed as a beginner class. However, we were encouraged to buy professional level supplies -- which ended up costing more than the class! I refused to buy 20 different colors of paints because I wanted to see if this was something I intended to continue. Instead, I purchased red, blue, yellow and white paint and simply mixed the colors as needed. We were also told to purchase all kinds of brushes, canvases and top coats, none of which I ever used. We were even instructed to get expensive "painting towels," when a plain, old paper towel worked just fine. I ended up using the specialty cloth towels to clean our fridge! I'm all for having professional supplies ... if you intend to pursue something at an advanced level. I own a set of enamels and enameling tools because I've been doing the craft for years. However, I didn't buy these supplies until I knew I needed them. I now have all of these painting tools, which I'll have to return or sell. I wish our teacher had started us off with the basics.

Last week my teacher was ill so we had a sub. She was really sweet, but sooooo anal. She made me line up my paint tubes and brushes in the exact way she does and kept moving and organizing all of my stuff. For the record, I am NOT unorganized. I just don't have everything lined up in military rows. She drove me crazy and I almost walked out in the middle of class. It took a lot to keep my calm when she kept grabbing my things.

I think it was the seriousness of the class that got to me the most. I take my jewelry making classes seriously, but I don't want to be a painter. I simply wanted to take a FUN class and maybe learn something as I did so. However, my teacher treated this as if it were a college course and went into detail over every line and brush stroke. The information he shared is very important if you want to truly learn painting -- but I was obviously in the wrong type of class for my needs. I was looking for a light-hearted class where I could blow off some steam; this just wasn't it.

Now that I have all of these half-used supplies, I might try painting on my own. I'll definitely take another Paint-Along class. I still think it can be a lot of fun; I just have to find the right type of class.

Meantime, check out my handmade wire wrapped and enamel jewellery at Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations. And check out LOVE NOTES, the music romance anthology which includes my book, REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

Making Handmade Jewelry: Beads For Love Event

I've participated in many charity events relating to music, but this week, I was involved in a wonderful program that called upon my jewelry-making skills. A bunch of us from the 92nd Street Y signed up for "Beads For Love" and visited a nearby elementary school so we could help students make beaded holiday gifts for their loved ones.

About 30 5th grade girls signed up -- and about 25 adults! Seriously, there were as many adults as kids present and I feared that some volunteers wouldn't have anything to do. But everyone managed to find a kid or two to befriend, and the event was a success.

I sat down at a table with two lovely girls, I and K (I'm only using their initials for this blog). Both seem to have a flair for design, especially I, who made a complex necklace using small and large beads. Though her piece was only made of one strand, she hung her beads in a way which made it look as if it were a two-strand necklace. It was stunning!

Several bead manufacturers donated materials so we had beads in every size, shape and color. But the girls' favorite beads were these large, round gold balls that looked like disco globes. They were practically fighting over them; luckily, we had more than enough for everyone!

My job was to help the girls finish their jewellery and crimp the ends. We had a mishap when I dropped her necklace and all of her beads went flying. She was almost finished with it at this point and I expected her to freak out. I certainly would have! Instead she burst into giggles. "You know, you're handling this a lot better than many adults would," I told her. "Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself," she said as she re-organized her beads. "Besides," she added, "Getting upset won't fix my necklace." Wow! Wise words from a 10-year-old! I'll think of her the next time I make a mistake on a piece and have to start over.

As K and I worked, we had plenty of time to chat and they told me all about their families and favorite subjects in school. I was disappointed, though, to learn that this school doesn't offer art or music classes. When I was in elementary school, these were my favorite subjects and I think it's important for kids to have an outlet for their creativity. Unfortunately, art and music are usually the first classes to go -- especially in NYC schools, where budgets are tight. It's a shame, because these girls could've beaded all evening if we'd let them. The two hours flew by and they were sad when they were told it was time to go.

The good news is that I spoke with the Y's jewelry program director and he says that he's already in the process of trying to make Beads For Love a more regular program. It would be great if we could visit the school (or even multiple schools) once a month. The director is trying to set it up so the workers would get paid, but honestly, I'd do it for free.

The Y is closed for the holidays so I'll be away from enameling for the next few weeks -- but this was a really nice way to finish up the semester.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Update On My Handmade Wire Wrapped Jewelry And Some Exciting Non-Jewellery News!

Sorry I've been MIA for a couple of weeks, but things have been crazy since the Y's craft fair. Now that Christmas and Hanukkah are right around the corner, orders are picking up -- and I've been making jewelry for Naomi's Designs and MayaGirl Creations around the clock.

The fair itself went pretty well. I sold two more of my enamel cat Christmas ornaments and made a little bit of money for the Y. Actually, all seven booths on the third floor sold items, so our tiny "club" had a 100 percent sales rate! I'm proud of our group, especially since we were stuck in the nosebleed section. As I said earlier, next year I'll know to sign up for the fair IMMEDIATELY and not wait.

Meantime, I've designed a whole bunch of new wire wrapped and enamel pieces, some of which I will blog about later on. But here is a little preview of my work:

Oh, and here is a photo of my booth from the fair. It's not the best picture or the fanciest arrangement, but you get the idea!

And now for my exciting non-jewelry rated news: As some of you may know, I was a writer before I fell in love with making jewelry. I spent 14 years working as an editor for an entertainment magazine and even published a novel, REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD. It's gotten great reviews and has done, well, okay, in terms of sales, but I figured that was it: It's out and whomever reads it, reads it.

Well, BAND GEEK is now getting a second life! I was recently contacted by an author named Kira Adams, who also wrote a music-themed novel called PIECES OF ME. Kira invited me, as well as authors Shane Morgan (THE RIGHT SONG) and Breigh Forstner (STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART) to combine our work, all of which is tied to music, into an anthology. Our collaboration is appropriately called LOVE NOTES and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon for 99 cents! It's set to debut on February 2, 2015 -- the day before my birthday.

You can learn all about the project at our release day Facebook party! On Feb 2 from 12-4, we will be chatting with fans and giving away prizes. It should be a lot of fun, so please check out and like our FB page and join in. Also, please help spread the word with our Thunderclap.