Friday, March 25, 2011

Mitosis Glass

Welcome to the first featured seller in what I hope to be a weekly series. I have bought several beads from Angie and not only is she swell to work with, her beads are truly fantastic. My favorite are her ocean beads. 

I have no idea how she does it but they are like oceanic micro-universes. Living so far from the West Coast (sorry Atlantic you just aren't the same) it's nice to be able to carry about a little piece of home, or what reminds me of home and what I miss the most.

Feel free to shoot her a line, she's very good about responding to convos (something we all love in a seller) and her turn around time is stellar. 

ps. those two on the bottom are on their way to me as we speak.

Seller:  Mitosis Glass

Name:  Angie

Q: How did you originally get into the business of making things?

Oh, I've been a huge fan of glass ever since I can remember.  When I first saw people doing glassblowing I was riveted; with the advent of YouTube I got to see all sorts of delicious glass work and I also loved to look at glass whenever I went to craft fairs and the like.

I had wanted to learn to work with molten glass but the only thing available locally was a glassblowing course at the art college, but the course was over $ 800.00 and they don't allow you to have any studio time outside of the class time.  How would I practice?  Where would I get experience?  I decided to sadly forget the whole thing.

Once I joined Etsy in October 2007 I learned that molten glass could be worked on a small scale to make beads, marbles and the like.  I took a class in November 2008, since the place I learned also let you rent their studio by the hour.  Finally!  Learning to work molten glass with the benefit of not having to set up my own studio to practice.

Glass is addictive in the same way that gambling is addictive; you keep trying in the hopes that you'll be successful *this* time, but really you only make decent beads just often enough to keep you hoping you can do it again.

Once you've climbed the steep learning curve you get addicted because most of your stuff starts to look awesome, and people love it.

Also I can go out to the studio and turn on the loud ventilation fan, put in the earplugs, strap on the respirator mask, pop on the protective eyeshades, and it's like I'm shutting out the whole world.  What?  You're talkin' to me?  I can't hear you!  I can't see you!  I can't talk now!  Go away!  Honestly, why didn't I think of this years ago?

Q. What made you decide to sell your wares?

I had always hoped I would make beads that looked good enough to sell, and once I started making enough beads that didn't embarrass me, I started to try selling them to friends.  Also, my sister who is also one of my biggest fans, she started asking for custom beads from me to give to her friends, so this gave me the confidence to present my stuff to the outside world.

I also sell jewellery through a couple of local retailers.  Back in August 2010 I bought a Killer Clown charm bracelet from Christine of The Killer B's, formerly of Etsy but now at her own site.  She offered to take some samples of my work to White Raven Emporium in Didsbury, where the owner sold Christine's jewellery and who is a strong supporter of handmade.  

Christine told me to whip the beads up into jewellery, which was another steep learning curve! and she took them to White Raven where they sold fairly well. This gave me the confidence to offer jewellery for sale as well, and the sink-or-swim method of learning how to make jewellery taught me a lot in a short time.

Q: Tell us about your previous working situation:

Well, I'm not making a living at this glass thing!  My previous job...  all I can say is, there is a special place in hell for some people.  There's nothing like an abusive work situation to motivate one toward independent self-employment.  The current situation (not glass) is dull but stress-free which suits me just fine.

Q: When you first started selling on Etsy, did you have dreams of quitting your day job?

Yes, or at least phasing it out.  Not because Etsy pushes the QYDJ notion, but because I know quite a few beadmakers who sell very well.  I haven't found myself to be one of those beadmakers though; my sales come in fits and starts.  In fact, you're one of my biggest Etsy buyers!

Q: Did you do anything to prepare ahead of time?

Ha!  No, I had no idea what to do or how to do it.  I just jumped in with both feet and putzed along as best I could.

I will say that the Etsy forums (R.I.P.) were an excellent source of information regarding running an online business so I didn't go into selling totally blind.  It's a shame this resource has been taken from the Etsy community.  Yeah, I know there are still forums but they're more convoluted and hard to navigate; I wouldn't bother if I were a newbie.

Q: What are the most effective ways you've marketed your business?

The vast majority of my sales anywhere have been by word of mouth.  Retailers will carry my things if they know someone who recommends me; people will buy my jewellery and beads if they know me, or if they know someone who knows me.

I need to get more "out there" so I think the next step will be Facebook.  I really didn't want to bother with FB but based on what others have said, this could be a decent marketing move.

Q: Walk us through your typical workday:

There isn't one!  I started homeschooling my son two years ago so that's been the majority of my daily time.  Studio time and computer time come in the evenings and on the weekends.

Q: What would you enjoy most about not having a day job?

Laying in the sun on the Riviera while getting my nails done.

Nah, but sadly I can't offer a perspective on this as of yet.  When I can I'll send you money and you can join me.

Q: If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself?

Regarding glass, nothing.  Regarding life?  I'd go back to my school age self and tell myself that all the bullies and kids who picked on me were the losers, not me.  I'd tell myself to concentrate more on developing skills and personality rather than just trying to fit it and belong, to realize that I have value already and acceptance among these snotrags is not important. :D

Q: What advice would you give someone else?

Regarding glass?

1)  It's highly addictive.  You have no idea.

2)  It costs way, way, way, WAY more to do this hobby than most other hobbies.  Your bank account will always have crickets chirping and not much else.

3)  You must, MUST set up proper safety precautions.  You can run a torch at your kitchen table for awhile but in the long run you'll be sorry.  Torches emit a variety of noxious gasses, improper ventilation can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning, inhaling glass dust and some types of bead release can cause lung cancer, working without eye protection can cause eye problems later, wearing synthetic clothing can cause quite the melted burn on your arm once the hot glass hits it....  You need proper ventilation, clothing, a respirator if you work with powdered glass, etc. etc.  The safety stuff is boring but essential.

4)  You won't get rich doing this.  Don't look at Etsy or Ebay beads made by experienced artists and assume you can buy a kit at Hobby Lobby and make the same stuff.  It'll be a long time before you'll be able to afford to sell your work and even then you'll just barely break even.

Regarding life?  Well, this email would go on forever and God forbid that should happen, so I won't even start.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Don't let the down days keep you down!  You'll have days where you want to quit what you're doing and throw all the supplies in the river.  Don't!  Wait, keep making your art, and just remember:  For every day's worth of fugly product, that's a whole 'nother day of mistakes that you know not to make again!  See?  Simple!

click on this one...

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for featuring me! It's been great working with you; I feel lucky to have such a great, accommodating, easy-to-please customer and I'm tickled my work has found such an appreciative home.

    I also love how you made the pictures look so good. How did you do that? Can you come do my photography from now on? I'll pay you in beads!