Recharging: Breaking The Cycle

8 11 2008

I’ve been having a hard time focusing on work and it’s been hard for me to meet commitments.  I’ve canceled two fairs in the last two months. I kind of expected I’d be a whirlwind this fall to prepare for a busy holiday season, but that didn’t/hasn’t happened. I haven’t really kicked into gear.

When I did the last big fair of the summer, I promised myself I’d never get into “crunch-time mode” again.  I’m sure you know what I mean, anyone who works for themselves does. The calculations of time per item and how if you just devote “x” amount of time, you could easily turn out “x” number of items and of how stocking for a show could be totally doable assuming you spend every single minute of every day working at the same pace for a week!

I’ve done it.

I’ve vowed never to do it again.

I’ve done it again.


I was in the midst of gearing up for one of my crunch-time weeks and realized I’d promised to deliver a batch of wallets and a display to a new shop, the gift shop of the Paper Discovery Center & Museum in Appleton.  I was honored when I received an email asking if I’d stock the shop with wallets and had looked forward to dropping them off, but because I was in crunch-time mode, I was feeling too busy to keep my appointment (Isn’t this nuts? Talk about an inner saboteur!).

Anyway, I debated rescheduling and then the better part of me kicked into gear, so I packed up the car and headed to Appleton. I’ll save most of the specifics for a post on my own blog, but I want to share one of the most important parts of the visit.

I walked in, met the wonderful staff, was shown where my wallets would be displayed and was treated like an absolute queen. I was given a tour of the museum and got to see everything from models of pulp barrels, printing presses, paper made from carrots, photos of people in the Paper Hall of Fame and everything paper you can imagine. I was totally enchanted as I saw the paper making process from start to finish and I was acutely aware that I had needed the visit.

We went downstairs and I was shown the library (not yet open to the public) and found myself in front of a shelf full of pop-up books. Some of them were vintage and some were new, but all were spectacular.

I almost started to cry because I realized that somehow in one year I’d gone from opening an Etsy shop to standing in a private section of an 1878 building and was considered to be a paper artist by the people at the museum! That I’d done a lot of work over the past year and even though I’ve been feeling like a slacker who has to resort to crunch-time weeks that actually, I’ve worked pretty hard and my problem has not been that I’m a slacker, but more that even with being particular about what assignments I take on, I’ve still over committed myself.  And that while it might be professionally embarrassing, I needed some time to regroup.  I realized I wasn’t willing to spend a week or two in crunch-time mode and I needed to back out of some commitments.

I felt teary because I realized after looking at the magical pop-up books for just a few moments that my heart was aching for the fun part of it again, the time spent last year when I felt overjoyed by each wallet I made and delighted by some new size or fold I was working with as opposed to just churning out pieces.

My tour ended and before I left I told Valerie (the director) that the visit had meant more to me than she could ever know and that I wanted to return to make some paper (anyone can make paper there as part of the admission fee).  It was then that Valerie reached into her desk and pulled out several pink handmade paper  hearts and put them in a hot pink envelope as a little gift for me. I hadn’t even shared with her that I had just realized how my heart had been aching for my work to be fun again!

I left the museum and vowed to stop my cycle of:

  • Calling myself a slacker for not churning work out fast enough.


  • Scheduling hell weeks to make up for it.

This weekend I had a fair scheduled and am also scheduled to leave on Monday for Chicago because my grandmother is having surgery. I lost time due to lots of volunteering during the election and realized that I either had to cancel the fair or go into double crunch-time crazy mode.  I chose to cancel the fair and while I can’t say that I’m proud of myself for this, I recognize that I did make a good choice and will take extra care in my scheduling and my promises made in the future.  I’ll get better at the artist’s life versus the business life and am learning as I go.  Those pink paper hearts serve as a reminder that I’m coming along.


Little Orange Kitchen Studio

A Fresh Start – Andrea Quenneville

26 09 2008

Early this summer, trying to balance my business with my family responsibilities got too complicated. My kids were squabbling and I was exhausted. Because we do not depend on my income, I decided to take a summer hiatus from running my online shop. I continued to sew and accepted a few custom orders, but I did not focus on selling.

I tried my best to take full advantage of two months of breathing room. I played in the rain with my children, I sewed a tiered skirt for my teenager and I decluttered in the garage with my husband. We went hiking, we went camping in a remote area for a week and I took the kids on some special outings.  I got so involved with recharging with my family that I completely forgot to write an article last month!

I set a deadline for myself of re-opening my shop on September 1st. The last week of August was rather hectic as I scrambled to photograph the inventory I created over the summer. But as I rushed around, I realized that my break was successful; I was excited about sharing my new creations and trying some new marketing techniques. I felt energized and ready to try again at finding a better balance between family and business. I’m looking forward to the next few months of holiday selling and hoping that the relaxation from this summer will carry me through December.

Please visit Andrea’s blog at .

Recharging – Lori Anderson

21 09 2008

No matter what job you have, whether it’s CEO of a Fortune 500 company or mommy to three, you have take time to recharge.  Doing the same tasks over and over again, no matter how enjoyable, can cause some serious burn-out.  A lot of people feel guilty if they’re not constantly working — because working is what pays the bills.  But if you don’t stop for a second, your happiness might take a nose dive.

I love making jewelry, but there are days when I just can’t look at another bead.  My creativity dwindles when I’m overworked, and even if I have a show looming on the horizon, I have to take a break.

So what do I do?

I catch up on reading my favorite blogs, play a video game (yeah, I know I’m 39, but it’s a guilty pleasure), I read a book.  I take my son Zack to a museum, or spend a day at Barnes and Noble.  I do something, anything, that takes my mind off designing and beads and jewelry and craft shows.

My major burn out always comes right after the Christmas rush.  A week before Christmas, I put away all the beads and I don’t make jewelry for a while.  That’s the time when I turn to other business stuff, like figuring out my business plan for the coming year or preparing for taxes.  That doesn’t sound like much fun, but doing something related to my work (non-design-related) actually does help me recharge and re-energize.

Regardless of what your work is, you have to take a break to maintain your sanity.  If you don’t, your creations will get stale, and you’ll lose your drive.  So even if it’s a short walk around the block or a moment to eat a particularly decadent chocolate bar, take the time.  And enjoy it.


Lori Anderson sells her jewelry at craft shows, on Etsy, and on her web site. She creates and blogs from Easton, MD.

Recharging – My plug ins – Heather Hertziger

11 09 2008

Occasionally there are days where I am to worn out to work.  On these days I just feel like a slug.  When this happens I don’t stress or push myself.  If I do try to push thru it quite often I just end up making it worse so instead I have learned to give in to it. 

 On my ‘to lazy to create days’ I pamper myself.  I take a long hot shower; I give myself a facial, manicure, and pedicure.  I will spend some time in my kitchen and create my favorite comfort foods.  Once my favorite food is ready I curl up on my couch with my dogs and a good book and just read and eat.  After a day like this I am often ready to go back to work the next day.

 Sometimes a lazy day isn’t what the doctor ordered.  On those days I prefer to grab a friend and head out to a café for an hour or two of coffee and gossip.  If a friend isn’t available then I take my dogs for a marathon walk.  Summer is a 9yo German shedder but she’s still got tons of energy in her and is always up for a nice long walk.  Spike is a 4-month-old Boxer mix who has more energy than both Summer and I combined.  Unlike talking to a friend though, bouncing ideas for jewelry and color combos off of them isn’t really productive.  They think every idea I come up with is marvelous and if I chose to string dog kibble on beading wire they’d adore it.  

Here is a picture of my adoring dogs.  Lousy critics but great relaxation buddies.

Written by Heather Hertziger, on a Mac 🙂

Recharging-Deanna Chase

26 08 2008

When your full time job is to be an artist, it is an all important necessity to recharge your creativity. This is a timely topic for me, as I have been feeling a might bit burnt out. It’s hard to stop and recharge when you have bills to pay or when things are selling really well. No one wants to get off the sales wave when it is riding high. But when you start finding yourself procrastinating to the point of getting nothing done or dreading going out to the studio, what is one suppose to do? It is my experience when I start feeling this way, it is time to drop everything and just do something else.

Sometimes that something is to do absolutely nothing. Yep, nothing. My last recharge was three days of reading. Really, I took three days off and read the entire time. Sounds decadent doesn’t it? I know, I felt kinda guilty, but I still did it. And you know what happened? I went back into the studio that next Monday and had a really good time torching. I mean I had fun! Imagine that. Fun at work. I also came up with some new designs to play with.

The other thing I do, is I try to find something else creative to do besides melting glass. In the past I have tried some pottery, metal smithing, knitting, none of which I ever became proficient at, but there is still hope. My latest creative diversion is writing. Yep, a novel. Fiction. I’ve got a good 55,000 words down. Currently it is pretty bad, but when I reread certain passages I find myself entertained, so that must be a good thing. The great thing about writing is it takes my mind off the glass business, which takes up too much time in my head. I do work on the glass business six days a week, so that is a lot of time. But when I am writing I get to go to another world. It’s a great escape.

Recharging- Oksana Prokopenko.

29 05 2008

One of the reasons I write is that I seem to acquire a magical ability to connect the dots previously unseen, to air out vague yet profound feelings. It is as if I rake up old, last year’s leaves of ideas off the surface to uncover a sleepy crystal clear lake underneath, brimming with new life and desire. Yet I was surprised, that while intending to write of hikes and forests, rivers and mountains (my preferred recharge environment), I wrote of etsy.
I still do not fully understand why I started an etsy shop. I am not a shopkeeper. Promoting things is not one of my strengths. I can hardly do the same item twice.
Then I had an insight why mulling over the upcoming post:
I like the freedom it gives me to experiment with new stuff. It is as if I put on a different hat and allow myself to do things quirky and odd, out of my ordinary routine. I realized that I think of myself as a serious artist- too serious, really, to my own detriment! I’ve forgotten how to have fun with all things creative. This of course explains why I could not put my name down- me? Associated with all these seemingly unrelated crazy things? No way!
And yet, I inch forward in the new direction. My etsy shop has become more of a lab: a place to try, a permission to fail, no strings attached. I understand now that it was not the business I was after, but a place to play. The shop has become my playground. I have explored with a child’s curiosity. I have tried mediums from decoupage to video in just the past six months. I am learning to get out of my own way, and silliness and joy are back on my daily agenda.
Surprisingly (or is it?), my other ‘serious’ self has only benefited!

Recharging – Suzanne of Solar Flare Creations

17 05 2008

I have had an unscheduled, chance to ‘recharge’ and have a break from torching lately. The digital controllerr on my kiln went on the fritz, and it was weeks until I could get an electrician to look at it. Then it had to go back to the manufacturer to be repaired and reprogrammed.  All in all, about 5 weeks with no kiln. And hence no torching.  Ironically, it’s only been a few months since I started garaging beads as I torch, so there is no real reason I couldn’t have gone back to batch annealing for the duration. Perhaps I did need a chance to recharge (or maybe I’m just lazy 🙂 )  Whatever the reason, today was my first day on the torch for a great many weeks, and it was very enjoyable.

My day job has been quite stressful and demanding this year, and I have not been able to give my beadmaking the attention I would like. I have also been a little demoralised with the slower market for bead sales, and the need to find new venues for selling. One thing I have always dreaded is making my hobby seem too much like hard work, so the enforced hiatus from torching has not necessarily been a bad thing.  I was able to return to the torch today revitalised and looking forward to many happy hours melting glass.  My new TV and DVD player in the studio didn’t hurt, either. 🙂

Solar Flare Creations