colorful glass necklace

growth and prosperity

by Lyn Foley on February 22, 2008

Starting a business is the easy part – keeping it alive, growing, and prospering is an ongoing, constant challenge. Making a living as an artist is much more involved than people I’ve talked to realize.  Customers often say something like this to me: “Oh, you’re so lucky – you get to play every day, be creative, and you don’t have to go to work!” – Huuh? Not exactly. It’s true, I am lucky, and I do get to play every day at creating something that I love – but, and this is a big but, I do “go to work”.


Here’s what I’ve done today, and this is my usual routine:

Jim and I got up at 6:30, and Jim put on the coffee. We did 30 minutes of stretching, sit up type exercises, then we put on our outdoor gear, and walked for two miles. On the out to walk I took yesterdays beads out of the kiln, and put them, still on their mandrels, into a bowl of water to soak off the bead release. I then turned on the kiln so it would heat up to 950 degrees by 10 AM.  Back home after our walk, we drank our first cup of coffee, made and ate breakfast. By 9 o’clock I took my second cup of coffee (decaf now, so I don’t get the jitters when I’m making beads) and sat down in the office at the computer. I checked e-mails, looked at etsy to see if I sold anything (nope), uploaded some photos I took of some new silver jewelry Jim made for the Round Top Gallery, and priced that jewelry. I cleaned yesterdays beads, planned what I wanted to make today (Teal hollows and bright yellow spacers), and went out to my lampworking studio in the garage. In spite of having to dip a lot of mandrels, I was at the torch by 9:45, raring to go.

It’s now 2 PM – we just finished lunch, and I’ve turned off my torch for the day (I made beads from 9:45 til about 1:30). After I finish writing this blog I’ll go over the mail, prepare an application for a December show, and then make at least one necklace (the beads for that are sitting on my bead board.) Several pairs of earrings are also sitting, waiting to be photographed. I’m also planning to upload some new pieces to etsy, and hoping to get the “Show Schedule” portion of my web site updated.

Jim, as the other half of this jewelry adventure, worked at his bench making jewelry until around 11:30 when he went out to do the business errands. He mailed a package, drove to the bank with a deposit, and delivered his new jewelry over to the gallery. Now he’s continuing work on an earring, necklace and bracelet set, and an elaborate neckpiece with one of my floral beads in the center.

We’ll quit our official workday around 5 PM, then probably have a hot tub, drinks, dinner, and relax for the evening.

It is fun, I do get to be creative – and I can work in my pajamas if I want. But still and all, after I make it, I need to sell it. And there comes the REAL challenge: Promotion. How do I do it? Mainly, I sell my creations at 12-14 juried art shows throughout Texas, New Mexico and Louisiana. So part of all that afternoon photography and computer work involves uploading digital photos to Zapplication  or Juried Art Services, researching what shows are out there, and when the deadlines are. I use Art Fair Source Book to help me find shows – it’s worth every penny I pay. I recently used their sample jury process to have my slides critiqued. I learned a lot from that process, and feel my slides are better now (and I got into a really great show soon after using my new set of slides).


lynfoley postcard  Each year I make an advertising  postcard made – with photos of my jewelry on the front, and a little blurb on the back about my work. In the blurb I leave a blank space so I can insert “You can view my entire line at this show: ——. Then, about 3 weeks before the show, I mail the postcard out to everyone in that area that has signed up for my snail mail mailing list. I also send out an e-mail postcard to the e-mail list.

I’m a juried member of Texas Originals – a group of artists that represent Texas. They create group advertising, and send us leads every month. I mail my advertising postcard to those leads, and I participate in studio tours, shows, and whatever the TXO group dreams up.

Jim and I like to know where our charitable contributions are going, so we donate works of our art to fund raisers that benefit our community – the local library, a local women’s league, and other organizations that we know make a difference. I don’t expect anything in return for our contributions, but I do feel it keeps my name “out there” – and when a piece of my jewelry is auctioned off, it usually raises much more money for the organization than I could comfortably give in actual dollars, so its a “win-win” situation for us all.

Sometimes I take out ads in publications (newspapers, magazines) that will be advertising the art show that I’m in. I placed an ad recently in American Style Magazine (I didn’t get any results that I know of).

What else? Ah, how could I forget – the Internet, the portion of promotion I find the most challenging. I’ve got a web site,(I used to use Paypal on it, now I’ve switched everything over to etsy). I’ve started this blog. I’ve joined Indiepublic. I’ve signed up for web rings. And honest, I’m trying to keep up with posting, and visiting sites, and making comments, and so far, after just about two months of all this, I’m hooked on some sites I found in the process, and drooling over all the beads other people are making that I didn’t know until recently were out there, and I’m reading about the angst of other lampworkers, and other artists, and I’m checking back daily, and wondering how this persons doing, and that persons doing, and hey, wait a minute, where did my day go?  EEK!!!

So here are some pieces I’ve made lately. And if you read this, let me know – I’m really not sure if the blog is working!

blue glass necklace  glass necklace
 glass necklace  glass necklace

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Amy K March 9, 2008 at 1:49 pm

(making my way through some posts today, obviously!) That animal necklace is FABULOUS. Just today, a friend said to me that it must be nice to stay home and not have to work… I replied that I did work, every day- if I’m not torching, I’m photographing, editing or listing, or spending time promoting. Must be nice, huh? LOL I think I work more at this that at my out of the house j.o.b.!

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