Five years ago when I started my jewelry business, I had absolutely no idea it would turn into this. That I would love what I do so passionately; that I would get so excited to teach others to make jewelry. But I do. When I can't sleep at night, I think about designs I would like to try, or how I can get more glitter into my classes. When I am watching tv, I am usually looking at the actress's jewelry and trying to remember it so I can make it later. For a girl who wanted to be a missionary, this all-consuming passion has really surprised me.
A few days after I turned 30, I woke up with the most unbelievable pain in my hands. Not sure what caused it, Chris and I started looking at what I had been doing to see if that held any clues. I had been working feverishly to finish several Christmas orders and my hands seemed to be reacting to that. So after the Christmas rush, I gave my hands several weeks rest and it seemed to get better.
When it kept happening, I went to see my doctor. She told me that I had developed arthritis in my hands. WHAT?! I was only 30, a good 20 years too young for arthritis. It was a major blow to my ego. I couldn't make sense of what was going on. I mean, God had given me this unbelievable passion and the skills to match it, and now it felt like He was taking it away from me.
I loved listening to Chuck Swindoll's morning devotions on my way to work, and as I was driving to work one morning, he started talking about Abraham and Isaac. I knew he was talking directly to me. Abraham had wanted to have a child so badly (even more than I want to make jewelry), but God didn't see fit to bless him with a son until he was 100 years old. And not long into his precious Isaac's life, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son to Him.
But Abraham (fearful or fearless, we don't know) faithfully took Isaac to the mountain God commanded him to, and prepared his beloved Isaac for sacrifice. God intervened and sent a ram to take Isaac's place--He rewarded Abraham's sacrifice and willingness to follow Him.
I wish I understood the road I'm on today. I have since been back to the Rheumatologist to find that I have tenysenovitis and carpal tunnel (both aggravated by using my hands). Some days I can work extensively for hours on end. And days like today, I can't manage to hold anything I pick up, let alone work on jewelry. I don't doubt that God has a plan for me. And I don't deny that things could be much worse--I still have the use of my hands, I just have to work within my limitations.
I sometimes wonder if God is asking me to make an Isaac sacrifice of my jewelry business and the use of my hands to make it. I have had almost 2 years to think about it, and I really would give it all up if that is what He wanted. Its hard to say that, but I trust that God has a greater plan I don't understand.
But if I'm being honest, I am impatient and want to know how this will all work out. While my senior students take some comfort in knowing that I struggle with some of the same afflictions they do, I want to know how I am supposed to be a handmade jewelry designer who somedays can't hand make her own jewelry.
Only time will tell, but until the day that my ram comes out of the brush, I'm going to continue on towards the altar with my Isaac hands. Becuase even if I don't understand why they don't work, I know that God does and that He will use it all to His glory if I only let Him.
You can read Abraham's story for yourself in the Bible. Genesis 16-22
It all started 7 years ago. I was walking through Michael's with my husband Chris and saw these really cute beads. I have a really bad habit of seeing something and then deciding I need to learn how to make it (or prove I can make it) rather than just buy it. So I bought the beads and my addiction was born.
It started out small at first. I made a matching necklace and bracelet for myself and my sister. But that wasn't enough, so I made a few more for my friends. And next thing I know, my little operation had nearly overtaken my living room.
Chris suggested I sell some of them, so I started looking at what it would take to start a business. I have no formal business training (like none at all) so it was alot of learning as I went. I was a religion major in college and was debating either a career as a NASCAR chaplain or a missionary in a far far away country. So when I decided to start my business, I had to start from scratch.
Some days have been an uphill battle. I've gone to jewelry shows where my tent blew away (with me holding on to it!), shows where my displays fell and broke into pieces, shows where no one bought a thing, had classes that were a complete disaster (hello fist-punching seniors!), had days where I didn't even want to get out of bed...but I have also had some pretty amazing days too. I've gotten to meet with some really cool shop owners who wanted to carry my jewelry, have received thank you letters from some pretty amazing celebrities, have had pieces sell at charity auctions for more than I ever thought possible, and yesterday, I got to film a television segment about me as a jewelry designer!
I had never been to a television shoot before, and never one that featured me as the subject, so I was more than a little overwhelmed by the whole experience. I helped style the models and host with my jewelry, and then I did a close-up shot or two modeling my own jewelry.
While I was standing there smiling (and sucking in and trying not to fall over), I kept thinking "this is it...I'm officially a professional." In reality, I think my professional status came awhile back, but for some reason it felt offical yesterday. I'm a little nervous to see myself on camera (rainy day = bad hair day), but more than that, I am grateful for the opportunity to even be featured. And really really excited I get to offically be considered a "professional."
I participated in several design challenges this summer. Each challenge had a different set of rules, different items to use, and challenged me in a different way. This was by far one of the hardest challenges for me because it was not items I normally use in my jewelry design. BUT...this was also the challenge where I felt the biggest sense of accomplishment when I was finished. Thanks Sandra for including me in your challenge :)
There were four bags of goodies (represented by the four pictures above) and we had to use at least one item from each group. I took them out of their bags frequently to look at them and study them, but I kept coming up blank when it came to using them. My friend Kim and I get together periodically to work on our respective bead projects, so I took my goodies to her house hoping inspiration would hit. It must have been my lucky day :) Inspired by the gorgeous view out her front window, my piece started to take shape.
I knew that I wanted to use the wood/nut shell fragments as charms, so I added some gorgeous brown crystals and a richly colored burnt yellow glass bead. I used a gold ring (formerly part of a belt) as the base and added the charms with gold wire. I also really wanted to use a feather as a "charm" and after several attempts, I had a nice wire wrapped feather charm that went nicely with the other charms.
It took me several tries, but I finally worked the brown button into the design in a way I felt complimented the overall design. I used a gold wire wrap to center it inside the gold ring. I finished my necklace with a simple gold chain.
But I still needed to find a way to incorporate the string (or at least a part of the string into my necklace). I love necklaces and bracelets that have a small dangle on the clasp, so I disassembled the brown rope until I had a small brown string. I tied two beads to the dangle (matching the ones used in the charms) and added it to the clasp.
I am thrilled with how it turned out and very thankful to Kim for allowing me to use her window for inspiration.
__To check out the others who participated in this challenge, click on the link(s) below.
Sandra of Skye's Creative Chaos - http://skyescreativechaos.blogspot.ca/
Marge Beebe of RockCreekCreations - http://www.rockcreekcreations.blogspot.com/
Kristi J of CuriositiesbyK - http://curiositiesbyk.blogspot.com/
Tammie Everly of TTE Designs - http://ttedesigns.blogspot.ca/
Sarah Goode of Pookledo - http://pookledo.blogspot.co.uk/
Sherri Stokey of KnotJustMacrame - http://www.knotjustmacrame.com/
Paula Hisel of SimplyBeadiful - http://www.simplybeadiful.weebly.com/
Shawn Mills of Bent Wire Boutique - http://shawnmariedesignsatbentwire.blogspot.ca/
One of the many challenges I participated in this year was the Bead Swap USA Bead Soup Swap. This is where the participants exchange beads, create something with the new beads and then return the finished item back to the original bead owner. I love these kinds of challenges because they allow us to see what someone else would do with our beads. Its fun because no one ever comes up with the same idea. Here are the beads I received and what I came up with.
Catharine sent some GORGEOUS beads and I was so excited to use them. There were two styles of beads included--beads of a more metallic nature, and brightly colored crystal and glass beads. I wanted to highlight each of them in a different way, so I decided to create two different bracelets.
For the metallic bracelet, I did a simple stringing of silver "cinnamon bun" beads with small silver spacer beads and gray crystals. I also wanted to use the gorgeous gray crystals so I made them into a beaded ball which became the centerpiece of the bracelet.
For the glass and crystal beads, I wanted to highlight the way the colors played together so well. I used a three-strand connector with rhinestones to tie all three strands together. This was my favorite bracelet and I tried it