Saturday, August 6, 2011

Thank you for so many things, Part 2

Fourth unrelated photo. 

This is a continuation of the last blog post.  So, if you're getting here without have read that, you might want to go back because this part will make much more sense to you. :-)  When we were last here I was explaining how June Roman helped me to think about the book proposal.  I certainly didn't think I was an enameling expert ... not by any stretch of the imagination ... but I was making some interesting discoveries in the studio based on skills I had acquired when firing Matilda, my big Roman arch downdraft kiln. I was merging two decades of ceramics arts knowledge with the world of torch-fired enameling. June gave me insights into her process of submitting a proposal to North Light. She insisted I go with her publisher.  She said, "When you're ready, let me send an email to my editor, Tonia Davenport, so that she'll know to expect your material and that I'm referring you."

Fifth unrelated photo. 

That very weekend I went into hibernation.  I knew there weren't any books on the market that dealt with torch-firing ... but for how long?  I had to get this finished ... plus, I realized I was not getting any younger! Who knew! I started writing the book concept, which I lovingly refer to as the "oxyclean commercial" ... the pitch.  If you read the book, it's the Introduction ... almost word for word. I wrote all weekend and finished up on Monday. I was bleary eyed and in a fog.  Book concept, preliminary table of contents, a couple of project how-to's, a copy of the Winter 2010 BAJ article, 20 digital images, bio, artist's statement sent.

Sixth unrelated photo.

Tonia was kind, she didn't make me wait on pins and needles.  She said she really liked my work, but she would have to check with the "trade guys" first.  The "trade guys" are the ones who make sales calls to big craft stores like Michael's, JoAnn's, etc.  She said that because I didn't use materials that were commonly found at these stores, she wasn't sure that North Light could count on the sales from these stores.  Since this was ten days before Christmas, Tonia said it might take her a few days to get back to me because people were on vacation.  In about a week she was emailing me that the "trade guys" said, "Go forth, young padawan." Well, not exactly in those words, but you know what I mean.  Of course, I wasn't nearly over the hurdle.  That didn't come until March 5 at a North Light meeting when Tonia presented the book idea and got approval.  I don't remember having many days as exciting as that!  It was unreal.

Seventh unrelated photo. 

My first days in the studio were overwhelming.  It was like I had stage fright.  I was frozen.  I thought, "I'm going to have to call them and tell them I can't do it. What made me ever think I could do it?"  I would have backed out if I hadn't gone on so much about "the book deal." I thought, "I'll never be able to show my face again if I don't go through with this.  I'll have to move to Siberia."

In the meantime, I had just started teaching workshops.  I had become a Diamond Tech distributor for torches and I bought beads wholesale for use by the students at the workshop.  I also sold the torches and beads at the workshop.  The students loved the new enameling technique, but at the end of the workshop they said, "What?  No Enamels?"  I thought, "Okay, I need to become a Thompson Enamel distributor."  My husband called Thompson Enamel.  It was very carefully explained to him that Thompson was particular about who they gave distributorships to ... you could not be strictly an online store because we would be competitors with Thompson.  Jim explained that we would be generating sales through the workshops I'd be teaching. "Great, that's the type of business we're looking for," they said.  We got the enamels just in time for my Northern Virginia workshop sponsored by Jeanette Ryan and Cindy Wimmer, which was a success, btw.

Eighth unrelated photo.

Sarah MacLachlin's song echoes in my ears ... fumbling, stumbling ... but at least moving forward.  More workshops, more needs by students for more enamel colors, more learning on my part, more writing the book. Nearly everything I'd done was in response to a need or request by students or customers.  It's not like I sat down and made this grand plan and said, "I'm going to do this, and that, and this." I am constantly asking for guidance from those around me.  My daughter is a business major finishing up her degree.  A year of 4.0's in some of the hardest finance and accounting classes gives me confidence to ask her for advice.  She has a wonderful mind but comes from a mother with a learning disability in math!  Go figure!

Along the way I've had to make mental adjustments about how I viewed myself. The tape that had been  previously recorded in another's voice and played in my head had to be put on pause.  Changes appear to have taken place by leaps and bounds, but in reality it was a series of baby steps put together. 

Today, I write to tell you that I'll be doing my first book signing at Bead Fest Philadelphia!  It's really happening.  It's here!  I hope you feel as though you can share in this success because you certainly have been a part of it. If you're at Bead Fest Philadelphia on Friday, August 19, come by Booth 848 and say hello. On Saturday and Sunday, since I'll be teaching, I'll be at the booth from 12:30 to 1 p.m. and from 5 to 6 p.m.   If you want a book, they'll be there and I can sign it!  It's still unreal!


Kirsten said...

You are such a wonderful person I know this is just the beginning of great things for you.

And I love how the beads in pic #8 turned out!

Mary K. McGraw said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story. You give hope to us late bloomers. I am anxiously awaiting the release of your book.

Lori @ Studio Waterstone said...

Congratulations, Barbara! You certainly deserve it. Wish I could be there - sounds like a lot of folks will.

Enjoy the spotlight, my friend.

Lisa Crone said...

Congratulations, you are so talented and deserve great success! Thanks for sharing your story! :)

Laura Twiford said...

Will be looking for you at beadfest! WooHoo!!

Preserve Jewelry Studio said...

Barbara, leaving a footprint of art is a huge accomplishment. It's so nice that your husband (and family) have joined your team. What a great memoir you will have for generations to come.

Gardanne said...

How exciting Barbara. Your first book signing and my first Beadfest, great timing.

Cinnamon Jewellery said...

It's wonderful to read about the background of your book :D
Have fun at the Bead Fest!

Patty said...

If I could be in Philly then I would surely come, Barbara! Thanks so much for sharing your story. It's great to hear about what goes on behind the scenes, and you have every right to be darned proud of what you achieved! Congratulations!

betty m said...

Congrats on your success! It sounds like you've been working towards this moment for quite some time. Enjoy the moment, you deserve it!

Betty Stafford

Alice said...

Barbara, I can't imagine going through the fear, doubt,and nervousness of writing a book. But the thrill of holding this book in your hands-this book you poured your life into--it must be an amazing feeling.

Congratulations!!!! I wish I could be there to see the book signing and meet you in person!

Your photos are just gorgeous! I just love those enameled hearts!

Carol B said...


Thank you so much for sharing your story. I had no idea you'd had to quit ceramics because of rotator cuff problems - ouch! I remember when someone (probably Mary Jane) posted on the PWF Ning that you needed to write a book. I was one of the folks who said "yes, do!" It's so exciting to see it come to fruition already. Also, thanks for mentioning "blessing your enemies." That has a special meaning to me right now. :) Congratulations again on the book and thank you for all I've learned from you via the Internet!

Davinia said...

Thank you Barbara, we are blessed that you have not only so generously shared your story, but shared your knowledge and creative ideas in your book.
I love every single photo but my heart belongs to the hearts.
I wish you every success at the bead fest (I bet you get swamped for autograph requests).

Malin de Koning said...

I love your story! I love how you tell it. I love how you have been fumbling and stumbling. And struggling. I love the baby steps. I love the fact that the story isn't over yet. I love you Barbara! You have given me so many things since I first got to know you. Thank you! It is such a pleasure! I love all the photos in these two posts.

Lots of love from Malin

P.s. Is this the beginning of another book maybe ...

Mellisa said...

So exciting, not only to be a book author but to have a signing! Congratulations on your success and thank you for sharing the story of your journey :)

TesoriTrovati said...

Great things are happening Miss Barbara! This is a wonderful journey you have taken us on. It is obvious to me that passion coupled with determination and a love of what you are doing is the sure way to bring your joy to life. I cannot wait to see a copy of this book! Doing a little happy dance for you myself. And since I am at the cusp of a new venture for me, I am relishing your tale for the positive reinforcement it brings to me.
Thank you for sharing!
Enjoy the day.

JuLee said...

Thanks for sharing your story. It gives me hope that at 60+ I too can be a late bloomer.

Barbara Lewis said...

Thanks everybody! I see so much talent in this blogging community. I hope you're saying to yourself, "Well, if she can do it, anybody can do it" and you'd be right!

SummersStudio said...

Congratulations on completing this stage of your journey. You've done such an awesome job of bringing this all together and in the process discovering more and more of yourself. Fantastic!

Colleen Mcgraw said...

Congrats on the book! can't wait to get my hands on it and really looking forward to meeting you at Art & Soul Portland. Please enter me in your bead give away I would love to be the winner

Rebecca said...

Thanks so much for sharing here. I knew you were a generous soul when you wrote me that ever so kind email about my jewellery which I have kept and think of often when gearing up for my craft shows (still in the baby steps period!). It's easy for people like me to see folk like you, Lorelei, MissFickleMedia, Heather Powers etc as bead 'giants' and forget that what has got you there is determination, hard work etc and that the journey was just as scary and uncertain (probably!) as for anyone else. Your 'unrelated photos' are all gorgeous and I am distinctly jealous that I can't be at Bead Fest! Just to far from the UK, ah well. One day!