Tuesday, May 23, 2017

How I Nearly Killed My Creativity by Mandi Ainsworth

So what I thought I was going to write about is not at all what wants to come out. I wanted to give you a happy pattern for making a beaded LOVE pen and call it a day, but its time to dig into something deeper (LOVE pen instructions still included). I would like to share with you about how I nearly annihilated my creativity with judgment, and what Bead Love means to me now. It's a long story, so I hope you're ok with the shorter version.

I was so excited the first time I got accepted to teach at the Bead & Button Show. I felt like I had finally made it. I was proud of my my website and podcast, I had a business coach to help me, and I was ready to make my dream of entrepreneurship a reality. I quit my part time job to get everything ready and to design new things to teach at future workshops. Only the money didn’t come, no new teaching opportunities, and I watched my friend, another new teacher sell out of her kits.

In that moment, I let judgment demons take over. I made what happened mean all these terrible things about me that weren’t true: my work sucks, I don’t design stuff people like, it’s too easy, I’m a bad teacher, nobody likes me, what’s wrong with me, why can’t I make this business work…despite all the evidence to the contrary including the evaluations from the wonderful ladies in my classes.

I returned home, got a new part time job, and carried on. I was really excited about super duos and their potential, and ended up with my Ratan bangle, a class which sold out twice at the next Bead & Button show. It was fun, but the judgment demons were still there, and in full force. Despite the outward success, I was in debt, I hated my job, and I was unable to make a living from my passion. That last part hurt so bad I started resenting my gift. 

I quit beading and decided to explore some other things and business ideas. I didn’t touch beads for about a year, and when I redid my office, I considered giving away or selling them all.

I was working with my mentor on a couple things, and after one particular session, I felt the urge to get my hands on some beads. I finished Sherry Serafini’s Monster necklace in one night, and it was so joyful to play with beads again I wondered why I ever stopped!! THAT. That joyful feeling of creating something with your hands, having no judgments or expectations about it being a class or to sell, THAT is what Bead Love is to me. Not that it can’t be a class or something later, it’s that creation for creation’s sake is the joy and the number one priority without any expectations or judgments on it.

A year later I have a full time job and I’m discovering how I’d like to weave beads into my life along with other adventures. I have a couple designs scheduled for future publications, and I started selling finished pieces again. One form of beading that I have always loved that is kind of a black sheep is freeform peyote. I love having no rules, and here’s my work in progress piece. The working title is “the key to creativity is no judgment."

It is my hope that this story contributes to you in some way. If you’d like to make your own beaded LOVE pen, instructions, blank graphs, and the entire alphabet can be downloaded here: Beaded Pens Ebook.


Just Beady Jules said...

Dear Sweet Mandi,

Not everyone can admit to a setback, but you did it with style and grace. Don't be too hard on yourself. You are young, creative, loveable and a great teacher. I have UFO's of yours (love your kits) and they sit among the ranks of Marcia, Sherry, Sabine, Shelley (do you think there's a hang up on the "S" name). But it does feel good to have a needle in your hand. So, don't give up! Love you lots. (And I will be forever grateful to you for the necklace you made for me containing the photo of dad after he passed and all the sobs and hugs that came with it.) Thank you for the pattern! Hugs

beth jillette said...

Thanks, I needed that!

Stephanie Clark said...

Your story sure resonates with me as well. I don't aspire to create designs and sell kits, but I have tried, periodically throughout my life, to sell my crafts. I've made "quilted" ornaments, I've created my own designs - embroidered and embellished - heirloom quality Christening gowns, seed bead bracelets and other jewellery pieces, hardanger embroidered Christmas ornaments, and Native dreamcatchers.

I've sold so few that I now make and simply gift. People tell me my work is of fine quality and I occasionally get "commission" work requests, but hardly enough to bank!

It's good to hear that some of us do find the seemingly magic combo, that mix of what and where and who that strikes a chord and brings in sales! I wish you tons of that magic! And I am grateful for your posts and your sharing, Mandi!

thea fine, beading design said...

Your post came at a particularly opportune moment for me. I haven't touched my beads for a few weeks now, primarily because I have no more craft shows for the year for which to prepare. After a super "high" last year and early this year, with acceptances to some seriously high-end shows with my bead woven jewelry, I have had nothing but rejections (and some from not-so-high-end shows!) and, even after over a decade of doing this work, I hit a new low. MY judgment demons are actively in play as I write.

I have vowed not to walk away. After all, for me, my career as a bead weaver is one to which I fled before I reached retirement age from a dulling government job. While on this enforced hiatus, painful to the pocketbook and even more-so to the ego, I hope to reinvent my work and my direction. I have taught only once and have few tutorials; my website is not up to date, since shows were my mainstay; and being a jewelry artist puts me into the most competitive show category there is (and shows, I fear, are on the wane, as well.) I'm headed in a new direction WITH my beads and a few other add-ons; I'm updating my website and I'm putting my work out there as an instructor with kits and tutorials. It WILL take time, but I'm ready for the challenge, thanks to your words and story.

I found your post uplifting, revitalizing and utterly filled with truth. May we both fly on the wings of creativity and may the muse sit on our shoulders regularly. Thanks so much for the lift!!

Paula Michalowski said...

I have been contemplating giving up my beadwork and teaching, selling a lot of my supplies and just doing things for myself. My studio is a wreck, Due to a full time job and health issues I am exhausted and discouraged.
I am going to have to reassess everything but your words give me some hope. Thank you.