Saturday, 21 February 2009

A quandary

I'm in a quandary. I don't like being in quandaries, they unnerve and upset me. I generally don't really do chaos terribly well (although if you saw the state of my house you'd shriek 'Liar, liar, pants on fire' at me). The Husband has told me that I'm the calmest person he knows and, I have to admit, I do tend towards the laid back approach to most things. Of course, I do also have days when I can do a passable impression of Hattie Jacques in brisk matron mode (in size as well as demeanour) and things have to be done 'spit spot'. But that generally only happens once a month and is hormone-linked. And only lasts 24 hours.

But, yesterday and today (and probably tomorrow, if truth be told), a quandary is what I am in.

I think I need to do something with my life. I very much miss teaching archaeology - I had a fledgling career as a university lecturer but had only been teaching for about a year before Surrey, in their infinite wisdom, shut down the degree course and threw us out into the street. This was in 2005. I know, four years ago now.

I looked into carrying on teaching but I had not had enough experience at Higher Education level teaching to have the confidence to approach other universities, such as Birkbeck or Reading, that teach Archaeology to see if they would take me on. And Surrey County Council also no longer cover archaeology in adult education, so I couldn't get experience there. It was all very depressing - for the first time in my life there had been the possibility of a proper career in front of me. A career where people actually respected my opinion and looked up to me. All my life up until then I had been 'just' a secretary, waaaaaay down the food chain, being told what to do constantly by other people. But a university that's something my late father would have been immensely proud of.

So, instead, I turned to my fledgling jewellery-making career. At the time I was in the very fortunate position of having a husband that worked at a well paid job in the City so money was not a problem (and for that I am, as always, more than grateful). He created a website for me (VenerableBead), I did craft fairs, village fetes and house parties. I still do. I very much enjoy the creative side - the searching for unusual semi-precious stones and combining them with pearls of many colours gives me great pleasure. The making of dichroic glass - the searching for the colours, the cutting, gluing and fusing - thrills me inordinately, you never know what's going to come out of the kiln.

I have sold over 750 individual items of jewellery since I started trading - people like my stuff. It's unique and affordable, and you absolutely will not find stuff like it in the High Street.

In March I am entering some pieces for the Spring Exhibition of the local Art & Crafts Society plus, for the first time, one of my own watercolours:

(Sorry the picture's a bit out of focus but it's hills beside a lake - I rather like it. If you click on it the picture gets bigger).

I am also submitting three bracelets I made from Dichroic Glass (although I only seem to have taken reasonable pictures of two of them):

Dichroic glass is glass that contains multiple micro-layers of metal oxides which give the glass dichroic (as in 'two [di-] colour [chroic]') optical properties. Dichroic glass was originally developed by NASA and its contractors for use in satellite optics and spacesuit visors. Dichroic glass sheets are available in a number of colours and different patterns and textures. They can be layered with each other or just a clear sheet of ordinary glass, and various effects can be achieved by fusing in a glass kiln. Varieties are, literally, endless.

I am also submitting six pendants from dichroic glass that I fired and then wrapped in silver- or gold-plated wire in an American style. This is particularly curlicued and swirly and, as you might have guessed, is popular in the States. I've not seen it on this side of the pond yet, so have been experimenting with it.

It's actually quite complicated and takes a fair bit of time to do each one. Sadly I can't charge anything like a decent amount of money for them because they take so long to do and no-one would buy them from a craft fair if I did.

To be honest, the credit crunch has definitely affected sales of my jewellery - it would help if I could get them into a shop but I don't really know how to go about doing that and how to negotiate an acceptable deal. I can't blame people for not wanting to buy my stuff - when you've got the mortgage to pay, food to buy and bills to pay, then frivolous spangles are not going to be exactly top of the list.

And, as I said at the top of this rather lengthy post, I miss teaching and being involved in archaeology. But good jobs in archaeology are as rare as hen's teeth. I have one or two contacts that I could ask but there's no guarantee they would be able to help. I could look into doing a PhD (which is something I very nearly started back in 2003 but kind of missed the boat - long story).

Or I could continue with the jewellery.

I don't know what to do - does anyone have any suggestions?


Anonymous said...

The jewellry is lovely. I know I may be teaching my granny here but you could also have your own ebay shop and a shop on Etsy, if you don't already. That will give you other outlets and a wider audience.

Shops, in my experience tend to want such a large cut that it can often be counter productive. Try some art galleries. They might be better. We have a small modern gallery in Leicester that sells hand made stuff.

As for the archaeology, Lampeter, which is where I went, used to have a booming archaeology department, but it is very far and very odd. You could have a poke about there though.

Good luck

lampworkbeader said...

As one beader to another, best of luck with all your endeavours.

Anonymous said...

Your jewellery is lovely. I've just been looking at the website and once I have money again (ie. when I've finished moving house and buiyng furniture) I may have to do some spending. Know a few people that your stuff would make perfect gifts for!

Calico Kate said...

I LOVE the deep dark blue one. Absolutely gorgeous. Haven't seen anything like it up here north of the border.
Have you tried local musuems? Ours ( do odd weeks and talks/lectures here and there. Might help to get your hand back in.
Whatever you do you must enjoy it.