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Making a living as a lampworker

After checking my blog stats this morning (Yes, Lisa, I do check them every now and then..LOL), I came across the search term “Can someone make a living at lampworking?”.  The short answer is yes, but (there is always a but right?), it takes a lot of work and discipline.

I thought I would give you some insights of what it is like doing this full time.

First, to make a sole living being an artist, one needs to be disciplined.  You need to be self motivated.  There isn’t a boss to please, no time clock to punch, no annual salary increases, and no attractive benefits package.  On the up side, there isn’t a time clock to punch, no boss breathing down your back, you don’t have to commute, assuming your studio is in your home, and you can take time off anytime you want.

The things you have to ask yourself is:  Am I motivated enough to work enough to cover my bills?  Do I have the gumption to stick it out when things are not selling well?  Can I handle the rejection that comes with no sales a few days in a row, or even after a week?  Am I disciplined enough to keep building inventory, when I get discouraged?

Some people thrive when left to their own devises and some people don’t.  This isn’t a criticism in any way shape or form, it is just something everyone needs to learn about themselves.

So if you have decided working for yourself is the way to go, read on and I will give you an overview of what my life is like.

Actual torching time:  About five hours a day, five days a week.

Computer time (editing pictures, loading auctions, updating the website, answering emails)  Note:  We do not work the show circuit, only do online sales, so keep that in mind.  Shows vs online sales will probably be my next post.  I list four to five new things on ebay, one new thing on Justbeads, one to two things on etsy and a daily special on the website Sunday through Friday:  Roughly two to three hours a day six days a week.

Shipping duties:  About two hours a day three days a week, including running to the post office.

Then there is the random promoting on forums and blogs.  And the record keeping.  I am the accountant around here, not my favorite job ever.

Greg does the studio stuff for me, dipping mandrels and cleaning beads.  If you know me, you know I hate, hate, hate, dipping mandrels and cleaning beads.  In fact my friend Shawn banned me from dipping mandrels, I was so bad at it.  I know, I know, I am spoiled.  At least I am aware.  Greg also takes the photos for the beads and marbles.  Its only fair, I do all of the rest of the computer work.

Alright, so that is what happens on a day to day basis.  Now, you are probably wondering how is the money? How much can someone make doing this?  While I won’t tell you how much we actually make, I will give you a few details on how we live, and you can make a determination from there.  Keep in mind, Greg my hubby is also a full time artist, so we have two artists income here.

We live in South East Louisiana, in a very small town, median home price for houses on our street are probably roughly around $125,000.  We bought our house last year.

We do not have kids.

I drive a used car, a 2003 Nissen Altima, purchased in January.  Hubby has a 1971 VW bus.

We pretty much pay cash for everything, or at least pay off the cc at the end of each month.  We don’t have any student loans, cc debit, second mortgages, or anything like that.

We do most of the house repairs ourselves.  Greg is pretty handy, and I can be depending on the project.

We have been here a year and still don’t have a dining room table or bedroom furniture, just the bed and plastic storage drawers for dressers.  Sure, I could go on craigslist or visit garage sales for some extra furniture, but after living in the rv for four years, we’ve learned to make do.  Hopefully the table is coming at the end of this month.  The bedroom, well that will wait.

Trips to Glasstock, The ISGB Gathering, and other bead retreats are usually out of our range as far as what we can afford to do.  I could probably make it happen, but for both of us to go, is a huge expense.

We have been on ebay for years.  We have powerseller status, Bronze is averaging over $1000 a month and Silver is averaging over $3000 a month.  We fluctuate between the two.  We also have sales on etsy, justbeads and the website.

So yes it is possible. I really only know a handful of people who make their actual sole living off of lampworking.  Most of my buddies have a spouse who brings in the primary paycheck, or they themselves work a day job and treat their lampworking business as a second job.

A Brand New Room!

This last week the guest room got a make over.  We are calling it the guest room, but really it is MY room.  I am thinking of moving in there.  Poor Greg, he’ll never see me anymore.

So here is the before picture (and let me just say, I Hated this room.  Really.  Couldn’t stand it.  Never went in it.  I think I was actually a little afraid of it.  And the indoor outdoor carpet the previous owners put in had stains and smelled Bad.  You get the picture.  I HATED this room.)

Yes, the room is a bowling alley.  It’s something like 6 feet wide and 28 feet long.  It use to be the back porch in a previous life.  I think the previous owners used it as an office, judging by the insane amount of cable and electrical outlets it had.  And the florescent six feet long shop lights.  ICK!

Okay, so this is the transformation:

Greg built the cozy nook and put in the carpet and I painted every square inch of the room.  It took me three straight days and man o man, was I tired when I was done.  I don’t mind painting one bit, but all that raw wood just sucked up the paint and it took forever.

But I am very pleased, as is my dog Disney.  She thinks it is the best room in the house.  She just likes the carpet.  The rest of the house is hardwood floors.  She’s slips around a lot on them.  She LOVES carpet.  So it’s my retreat/reading room now and clearly my favorite place in the house.  My favorite room use to be my office.  A very soothing sage green room, complete with my desk top computer.  Sorry office, you’ve been upstaged.  :-)

We're back!

We survived our first hurricane! The power was out for only about 28 hours. A neighbors tree took out a power line, so we were pleasantly surprised when the power came back on yesterday afternoon. It took a little while longer for the cable to come back on, but all in all we are feeling pretty lucky. As of this morning, more than a million residents in the state were still without power.

We had some fierce winds there for a while on Monday afternoon and we could hear limbs snapping from the trees from time to time, but luckily the winds were blowing west and all of our trees are on the west side of our house, next to a good bit of empty land. A few pretty large limbs snapped off, but other than some scrapping to the house, we faired with nothing more than debris in the yard.

So today we are back to work. It was a lot like camping, only in fierce winds and inside the house. I read three books. Hows that for a little vacation?

Hurricane Gustav comes this way!

We are currently under watch for Hurricane Gustav! We are fully expecting our power to be out for a least a few days after it hits tomorrow and along with that my cable connection. If you are trying to reach me and I have not responded, it is due to non access to the internet and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

All items that were paid for prior to Friday have already left in the mail. All other items paid up through today are packaged and ready to go. As soon as our Post Office reopens they will go out. I have no way of knowing when that will be, but it looks like Wednesday is the estimated date to be back up and running.

To all in the path of the Hurricane, take care! And to all of you living in the Southern Parishes, my heart is with you.

P.s. Our area is not under evacuation. We are watching carefully and are all stocked up to ride out the storm. Thank you to EVERYONE who has sent well wishes and offers of shelter if we need it. We truly do appreciate it.

Alternate reality,

When jewelry designers make beads and bead makers make jewelry. This weekend my friend Lisa of JoolzbyLisa came to visit. Mostly just for some R & R, but lots of girl talk and a trip into New Orleans. As part of our visit, Lisa taught me how to make a treasure bracelet. Wowza, those things take time. I must have spent at least a good eight hours working on mine. I am really pleased with how it came out though. Lisa is a good teacher. She also brought almost all of the supplies. We did make one emergency trip to Hobby Lobby for some larger seed beads and another to Walmart.  I didn’t have a big enough needle.

In return, I gave Lisa her second lampworking lesson. She had one last year at Bead Camp, where she made a few pairs of earring beads. So it has been over a year since she had her first lesson. This time she made a set of beads with silver. I instructed her on a technique shown to me by another friend Shawn of SetInGlass. I have already showed off Lisa’s beautiful beads to my lampworking girlfriends. We all agree it’s good she doesn’t have her own torch, she’d be putting us to shame in no time. Ya’ll will never have the opportunity to see the beads I made in my second torching session. They were U-G-L-Y, and I have long since tossed them into the abyss. Though Lisa are utterly gorgeous. Here is the proof:

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