Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Death of Please and Thank You

I am going to have to break the news to my Momma that she raised me wrong, because those free manners she beat into me from the age of two aren't supposed to be practiced on Flickr or at Etsy.  

Yes, I was actually chastised earlier this week by a "well meaning" colleague who thought she needed to instruct me on when to say thank you.  I am from the South, and we're a little slow, you know.  she wanted me to know that I don't have to post a thank you for every nice comment someone leaves under your photos on Flickr.  I kid you not.  

What's worse, I discovered after that enlightening email that she is not the only one who thinks that way.

I check in on the discussions at the forums on Etsy once a week to be sure I'm not missing news about the implementation of the next, great Seller's tool. The powers that be don't often tell you what's coming down the pike before they send it hurtling toward you.  

Well, a question was asked to the effect of whether or not Sellers should leave feedback for their customers.  Huh?  You mean someone actually thinks you shouldn't do that?  Yes, indeed.

Judging by the response to the question, there are many sellers at Etsy who either a) don't care about feedback; b) can't afford to take the time to leave feedback; c) don't think it is necessary in order to maintain good relations with customers; or d) don't think it affects whether said customers come back and buy from them again.  

Criminy, some people are stupid.  

I was amazed at how many sellers actually said they couldn't take the time to leave positive feedback on a transaction.  Many are also of the opinion that feedback should be withheld until the buyer leaves it for the seller first.  Some sellers think the buyer's side of the transaction isn't completed until the buyer receives the item and is satisfied with it. WRONG!   The buyer's side of the transaction is completed as soon as they pay for the item.  

I've come across this before, this holding hostage the buyer's feedback until they give you feedback.  Several people I know have that position.  It is not very professional, in my opinion.  If you are an ethical Seller who puts your best work out there, you should have no reservations at all about leaving positive feedback for the buyer immediately upon completion of payment.  Period.  If you don't, it makes me think you knew the work was not the best before you listed and sent it out, and you're holding your breath waiting to see whether or not the buyer agrees. 

After thinking on this situation for a couple of days, I have come to a conclusion.  Manners must be a generational thing, or perhaps a cultural thing.

In the South, if you are over the age of 40,  you were raised to be respectful, which meant saying "please," "thank you," and "yes, ma'am or sir."

But, even this Southern 20-something generation doesn't have the manners my generation has.  They seem to be a bunch of whiny, inconsiderate, selfish brats.  This generation is all about "me."  Please and thank you are hard to come by in this day and age, and that's a damn shame.   My niece and nephews still say it, thank goodness... within my hearing, that is. 

Since 20-somethings are now running the world, I should not be surprised that a hip, young, internet seller has such a blase attitude about taking 15 seconds to thank a person who spent their hard-earned money for something in the seller's shop.  

One girl (if her photo is any indication, not a day over 25) stated she averages 1500 sales a week, which I could not confirm by looking at her sales; and that she only posts feedback once every six months, if then.  With all those sales, she just doesn't have the time.  She has plenty of time to stalk the forums and post on many different topics at all hours of the day and night, however.  I guess she has her priorities.  Posting... high on the list... thanking the people who pay her bills... bottom of the list.  

Frankly, if a seller waits 6 months to leave me feedback for something I purchased, I don't remember what I brought from her in the first place.   It annoys me to get a feedback 6 months after the fact, and I have been known to email the seller and tell them so, and that I won't be troubling them with any future purchases for which they need to bother leaving feedback.

If you are a customer of mine and you don't receive feedback from me within 24 hours of your purchase, you will know I am dead.  

And, if you leave a nice comment for me at Flickr or anywhere else I post stuff on the internet, you'll get a timely thank you for that, too.

That is just how my Momma raised me, and as she has always said, manners are free and it doesn't cost you a dime to use them.

Jeez, is it really any wonder this world is going to hell in a hand basket?  

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A Tremendous Honor

Cynthia Tinapple's new book, Polymer Clay Global Perspectives: Emerging Ideas and Techniques From 125 International Artists, will be published on July 30th.

Cynthia posted the news this morning on her site, Polymer Clay Daily, that she has created a sister site, Polymer Clay Global, which promotes the new book and lists the names of the artists included.  The site includes links to their websites or blogs so you can get to know them better.

And now, I can tell the secret I have been keeping for months...  I am one of the 125 artists included in the book!  I am thrilled beyond words for this tremendous honor.

Honestly, I haven't posted about it on the blog until now because I was afraid my photos wouldn't pass muster.  Cynthia asked for a format I wasn't able to deliver, so I sent in jpeg files and kept my fingers crossed they would work.  I guess they did!  When I saw my name in the lists of artist, I finally let out a breath I've been holding since last August.  

I am so excited to be a part of this important book.  I don't think I will actually believe it until I see it in person.  Many of the artists included are pioneers in the polymer clay world.  Many have worked for years to elevate polymer to a legitimate artistic medium.  I did not even pick up a piece of polymer clay until 6 years ago.  I feel I am still at the very beginning of my journey with it, so it is unbelievable to me that my name is among those included.

Cynthia Tinapple is the best polymer clay ambassador the polymer community could hope for.  She works  tirelessly to promote polymer artists and their work.  She not only created Polymer Clay Daily and Polymer Clay Global, which promises to delve even deeper into the inspiration behind the works of our best polymer artists; she also curates a video newsletter, Studio Mojo, devoted to in-depth interviews with some of the world's best polymer artists.   She always has her finger on the pulse of polymer trends and news and generously shares it all with us.

I cannot imagine the time and effort it takes to keep up with all this, but Cynthia does it, delivering our daily dose of inspiration at Polymer Clay Daily so that I and thousands of others can peruse it with our morning coffee.  I always start my day during the week with it, and lately, I have been going back through the archived posts, discovering even more artists and inspiration.

For my gallery spot, I submitted photos of these Faux Jade Kanji Character focal beads I created using Pardo Translucent Clay and alcohol inks.  I cannot wait to see what everyone else submitted.

Several of my friends are also included, another little thrill.  I am so happy for them.  Many of my polymer mentors and heroes who inspire me every day to push myself to do better work are also in the book.

I hope you will check out each and every link in the list of artists included.  You might want to pace yourself, though.  The quality of the polymer art is going to be mind-boggling.  

Mere words could never convey how appreciative I am of the honor, Cynthia, but thank you so very much.  I am permanently installed on Cloud 9 from this day forward; and I invite all my friends to climb on up and celebrate with me!

June ABS Entry

I wasn't going to enter the challenge at Art Bead Scene this month, but after I saw the art which is the inspiration for this month's challenge, though, I decided to enter these earrings.  I didn't make them for the challenge, but they incorporate almost all of the colors in the painting, the wavy pattern echoes the waves of the water; and the mosaic squares also echo the little house shapes.  

The challenge artwork for June is "Jackknife Village" by Franklin Carmichael, a "modern" Art Nouveau  styled painting created by him in 1926.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Free Your Mind And The Rest Will Follow...

It is supremely embarrassing to realize I have not posted here on the blog in more than a month, but that is what happens when I get immersed in a new tutorial.  I am only coming up for air now to post a few new pieces in the shop and on Flickr.  Some of these are pieces I made a month or two ago, and stockpiled while I worked on the tutorial, so I could add a few at a time as other pieces sold.  I try to maintain about 150 items in the shop at one time, so twice a month, I add new things and rotate out some of the older pieces.  

Anyway, while I have some "spare" time waiting on the new clay, I decided to get back to something I love to do but haven't had the time for in more than 20 years.   I sewed myself some new clothes!

I used to love to sew.  My Momma taught me how when I was 8.  My first project was a simple dress I made for 4-H.  That was the very first thing I ever made with my own two hands, and I know it is what got me started on this artistic path.  I can still see it, a little beige, cap-sleeved sheath that may have had 6 pieces.  Momma made the pattern for me out of butcher paper.  It was beige because we couldn't afford to buy new fabric, and had to use whatever she had on hand.

I need new clothes after more than 30 years as a paralegal, wearing the "dress for success" blue suit, black suit uniform during the work week.  A couple of weeks ago, I came to a startling realization:  I am never going to be in the corporate work force again, due to my age, which is middle headed toward old; and my health, which is so-so.  The jobs I want are going to the perky 20-somethings; and ain't nothing about me is perky anymore.   

So, I am now and for the rest of my life will be a full-time artist and jewelry designer, probably below the poverty level.  LOL 

Am I happier than I was in the corporate world? Ask me on a day when I've had a sale or two and can pay the bills.  There is a lot of worry for most full-time artists, and while it is something I dreamed of being able to do,  it was only a pipe dream 5 years ago; and even then, I was thinking it was 20 years down the road.  But, here it is, and I am trying to enjoy it.

Setting aside the worry, there are wonderful things about my "new" life.  The best thing is that each day is my own.  I can do whatever I want with it.   I am learning not to feel guilty for sleeping in until 10:00, okay Noon, one morning, or staying up all night the next.  I don't have anyone to answer to except myself.  

The second best thing about working for myself is that I get to spend more time with my best friend, my Mother, Addie.  

We have had some great heart to heart talks lately, really opening up to each other.  I've never felt closer to her, and I think she would say the same about me. 

Any of you who have visited my blog already know that my Momma is an artist herself, a landscape painter. We have had some really enlightening discussions about color theory and design recently.  I have become so interested in what she does, that I have decided to take some art classes and see if I have any talent at painting.  

Third, if I want to get in the car and drive through the countryside on a weekday to get inspiration, I get in the car and start driving.  As small as South Carolina is, I can be on the Atlantic Ocean or in the Blue Ridge Mountains within a few hours' drive in each direction.  Inspiration is everywhere around me.       

I have also had some serious discussions lately with my friends and fellow polymer artists, Jill Kollmann and Ginger Davis Allman, about stress and pressure and creativity and being successful as an internet seller.  We are all trying to figure out the magic formula, and I am learning about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and other marketing strategies.   Jill and Ginger (and Ginger's computer Guru husband, Gary), are super smart about all this internet marketing stuff, and have been a huge source of support and encouragement for me.  

Ginger is actually a customer turned friend, a co-conspirator in the search for the perfect cobalt blue translucent clay; and I am convinced Jill is a sister from another mother.  We have so much in common, and when I need someone to vent to, or share a success with, I go to Jill.   

Having key people to talk to is important.  It is also a bit of a change for me, as my closest friends for the past 30 years were people I networked with on a daily basis in my paralegal job.  Only a handful have maintained contact since I left my old job, and I am doubly grateful for all the friendships I have made through the internet.  

Once I had the epiphany about not being part of the corporate rat race any more, I decided I want to be somewhat of a Bohemian.  My old "black suit, blue suit wardrobe" has been relegated to the back of the closet.  My new, handmade wardrobe is much less restrictive, more comfortable; and certainly bolder and more brighter. 

So, if you see me gadding about town in a flowing turquoise and red caftan, or a busily-patterned batik print tunic, don't be saying to yourself "there goes that crazy, old, artist lady again."