Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Beads for Japan

With the ease of gathering worldwide news these days, it sometimes seems as if one tragedy after another is occuring, each quickly overshadowed by the next. The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan is just a couple of months behind us, and already it seems we have nearly forgotten this awful trio of events that devastated Japan.

I'm so glad the ISGB (International Society of Glass Beadmakers) has put together a fundraiser to help out the people of Japan in a small way.

I can't imagine what it must be like living in a country with such a large population and such a small bit of land that has suffered so many things all at once. The ISGB will be selling beads made by its member at the annual Bead & Button show in Milwaukee, WI in June and donating the funds to the Japan Disaster Relief Fund of the American Red Cross. I've sent off 10 of my hollow Japanese lantern beads to be sold there. The price is pretty nominal- I'm kind of hoping that folks will donate a little extra when they choose a bead.

Thanks to the ISGB for putting this together. And if you are a member, I hope you will consider making a donation as well.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Farmer's Markets and Me

Well, it's finally that time of year again up here in the frozen north- farmer's market season, and boy am I ready! I'll be at the market in King Ferry with all of the glass I've been making this winter- which means I'm stocked to the gills. Loads of fish, pendants, necklaces, portals, and beads, beads, beads! All of them my handmade lampwork glass, of course. There will be lovely hand spun woolen yarns, felted jewelry, some gently used high end clothes (lots of Flax), and who knows what kind of yummy foods. It's just the beginning of the season, but I'm hoping folks will be ready to come and see what's on offer.
The weather should be beautiful!

I've been selling at farmer's markets for years, and I love the feeling of equality and all of the amazing things you can find at them. Loads of locally handmade goodies- both food and artisan- made goods. And lots of lovely people too!

Which brings me to another point. I have been noticing lately that some of the markets are excluding crafts, or only allowing 'farm made' crafts. What a pity! Some folks seem to think that artisans have plenty of other places to try and make their living , and shouldn't be allowed to ride on the coat tails of the farmers. Now I do realize that the main reason people go to farmer's markets is for the food and that is as it should be. But I feel strongly that juried crafts should be allowed as a part of the 'buy local' movement that many small farmers are proponents of. And small artisans can be a wonderful addition to the markets, bring in more people and add to the 'buy local' atmosphere. Not to mention that artisans can really use the steady source of income that a sensibly priced market can offer. After all, one can only afford so many craft shows in a year.

Yes, my raw materials come from Italy, but from the point those materials enter my home, I do everything to make them into original little pieces of art glass. Lampworking was becoming a dying art until about 18 years ago, when there was a bit of a renaissance in the U.S. and consequently around the world. Handmade pottery, blown glass, woodworking, metalworking- all of these arts and more should be encouraged. I'm not talking about things you might learn in a class at one of the major craft stores, I'm talking about artistic crafts that take years to perfect.

It is my sincere hope that the farmer at the markets will find a way to continue to include high quality arts and crafts. I'm sure there are groups of artisans who would be willing to act as a jusy. The market in Baton Rouge, LA. is a wonderful example of a way to make this work. There is an arts market once a month, juried by the local arts council. It is a very successful program, which you can find out about here: http://www.artsbr.org/