What a strange year 2020 is!

 Dear Reader ,

I have left you in the beginning of the year all hopeful of how very exciting this 2020 business is going to be. I was jumping out of airplanes for a hot second, got two new tattoos, was going to show up at your local bead store and bead society and barely be home as usual, very much like the last seven years have been. 

Then life came to a full stop as you know it.

On a personal level, lots of changes happened. Without getting too personal, I am getting a divorce -it's still in the making because things take time, but it has been in the making for a lot longer than when the legal part began. This is all good. Not everything is meant for a whole lifetime, and endings do not negate beginnings and good times spent together. They just put a period at the end of a sentence that need to not go on forever. Stories go on, people go on. It's the natural order of things.

I also got into a new relationship with an old friend and that part happened faster than I thought such thing would come to pass, but then god's ways aren't always knowable, so that's that. This year has been hard and I have been humbled and tumbled, chewed up and pooped out. After some terrible personal losses which are no subjects for a blog post, life goes on. Day by day, during a strange, trying time. Let it suffice that I am not the same person I was when this year begun, and for that I am partially grateful and partially will be eternally sad. 

On a beady- business level, this year threw the monkiest monkey wrench  into my planning. In January I knew what I was going to do, who I was going to be, and where I was going to travel from Alaska to Holland in the next 2+ years. 

I had class projects lined up, no time to do anything but work.

Then the pandemic hit. As some of you haven't left your homes since March, I do not need to introduce the fucking monster that robbed your year and probably the next one as well.

We all went from planning for years ahead to planning for the next month. Or the next week. Or tomorrow. Thank god, I am no longer in a situation having to earn my rent money working a minimum wage job. My heart goes out to every single person who had to show up to shitty jobs to make sure they don't get evicted, to put food on their kids' tables. To stay alive.

Thanks to the generous support of all y'all beadykin through the past so many years; I did not need to get a job selling either my body or my soul. I got to sit with my sorrows, fears, hopes, angst, itching to get on the road and ideas that I never had time for.

Let me explain what you have been getting out of me for the past 7 years while I have been teaching you beady projects: I went from having the shittiest day job with the biggest creative outlet to trying to manage how to make 200 kits of the same project that I can teach for a year times seven or eight, to give everyone options. How to budget for this a year or two out. How to manage expectations. 

You showed up at your local bead store, I showed up with my classes and kits, you supported your bead store, you supported me, by taking my class I paid my bills and barely had time to think of anything else other than taking bathroom breaks.

This has always been a one flea circus. No matter how many cranky emails, Facebook messages and Etsy convos were sent to my shipping department/ someone / anyone, it was always just me and it started to eat me alive little by little.

Then this pandemic hit.  Everyone is doing their zoom classes, all the sudden you can take any class with any person you always wanted to take a class with from across the globe- IN YOUR JAMMIES.

Good for you! But this came with tremendous expectations. Bead stores that sold my classes to their local beaders are now selling my classes to my customers I have had for years globally. The whole industry went from local to global. This in a sense is a wonderful thing. There is diversity of new ideas, new ways to look at beading and so much progress and ground breaking innovation, I get goosebumps to think about it.

But you, dear beady reader, who now can take super cool classes from any artist far far away- you got spoiled. Well, I can't blame you. You deserve access to whatever is out there and those artists far far away are finally getting prime access to kind, generous US based beady folk. Everyone is happy.

Where does that leave me? It leaves me thinking: cream rises. But shit floats too. Only for so long. If something doesn't work, if someone is not a good teacher, you will not go back to them for seconds. I am full of great ideas and not ready to cry uncle and roll over. The beady paradigm has changed. You now have access to any instructor you ever wanted to take classes from across the globe, and you know what? This coincides with my need for not doing the same thing 200 times over.

Despite the terrible occurrences of this year, I have been more creative then ever. I am getting  really close to being done collecting material for my book I will self publish in the foreseeable future. I have cranked out more significantly new and exciting kits that you could do at home than any other year past.

I did teach plenty of zoom classes and I did finish my obligations to any bead store I had outstanding agreements with after April of this year. But the days of me planning for two to three years ahead are gone. The days of a bead store offering classes in person to their local clientele are gone for the foreseeable future We now all have the same customers.This does change at least for me how I offer classes. So the days of me laying out tens of thousands of dollars ordering materials for roughly seven or eight classes being taught over and over for a year at your local store- those days are over as long as we are stuck at home. Let's face it: you are not going to your local bead store for the same reason I am not getting on an airplane to teach you. We are both scared shitless of a virus that may either be nothing, or kill one of us, or someone we come into contact with, or leave any of these parties incapacitated for the rest of their lives.

So you are in the market for beady classes. But given that you now can take anyone's classes anywhere, you might not give a hoot about the class you can take from me thrice a month from three different places. And that is entirely good, because starting next year, unless a class is an absolutely fantastic groundbreaking idea like let's say- my butterfly class- you want something new.

Well, dear reader, it is just so that your need for  a new and exciting thing coincides with my not wanting to do the same thing 200 times over. Up till the quarantine, I haven't realized how heavy that was getting. How much it was limiting my creativity. It was definitely putting a break on experimentation, innovation, or at least on personal excitement about things I want to see existing in the world because I designed them.

So what does this mean for you and me? If you are one of my loyal customers who has been taking my classes for years and you enjoy step by step projects with really precise instructions; you will get what you need: these will be created in batches of 70-100 and sold on Etsy as they come out. I might not have more than one release, but at least you get a chance to get one of these limited edition kits.

For those of you dear friends who like my design classes, what I will do for you, and for my own excitable, experimentacious soul ( I know that's not a word, but it ought to be); for you, I will have limited edition design classes for 12 people at a time, only repeating as many times as there is a need for it, but certainly not dozens of times.

This will allow me to put together personalized kits for you, give you entirely one of a kind design elements and a lot more attention than you would get in an in person class, not only by the virtue of having half as many people in class as before, but also being able to see me beading alongside you throughout the entire class and you having to pick my brain all day.

This is not going to be something I will do every weekend. In fact, I kind of had it with being away from my own life almost every weekend, so most of these classes will be on my terms, during the week, with weekends added occasionally. Hopefully you will find them exciting enough to take a day off for them if needed.

What do I have planned so far? I will have a bracelet design class for sterling opals. I will have a design class for making a kickass necklace with antique keyholes. I will also participate in professionally organized weekend long online bead retreats and will keep on collaborating with bead stores as I see fit but a lot more rarely than  in the years past. We can either hold on to the past and hope that things will forever be the same while they are obviously not the same, or try to reinvent the wheel and keep on being creative in our own ways. That second option is what I will go with.

Where does that leave those of you who still can't afford to take my classes but really like my projects? I am not going to lie to you. I am not rolling in dough, so there is only so much random generosity I can offer. So far this year I offered some seats in some classes for free, given away lots of goodies as freebies and raised $9000 for the ACLU.On Thanksgiving I will give away more kits or classes. I am not sure about that just yet.

But my heart goes out to anyone who is stuck at home all by themselves with no end to this apocalypse in sight and no money to throw around. You are not alone! This pandemic has effected all of us, and I want to reach out to you and lift your spirits too. How about a beady book club on zoom? Free of charge. I pick a book that will make you feel better, then I send you a zoom link and we bead together and shoot the shit. I promise to pick things that are good for the soul. I bet you have a library to borrow from if you can't just buy the book, you have beads and I bet you NEED company. I am here for you. This is the best I can do. We can bead and converse and just hang out once a month. That's something. I think a book club is a good idea because this way we have something concrete to talk about. We don't need to sit around awkwardly waiting to start a conversation, shifting to politics and religion and things that trigger people.

If you follow my Facebook posts, you know where I stand on politics. I don't need to talk about that any more. And I also don't need an audience. I want to give you something that lifts you up and out of the collective misery this year has been, give you a fine way to escape and have a starting point for a conversation while you get to bead with people who also want to do exactly this. Bring a friend, bring a drink, do not give me any money, log onto zoom and just hang out for a while. Something to look forward to, ey? Can we ask for anything more than that this year? I sure can't.

 Your first book is: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

 The zoom meeting will take place in November. I will post the date here very soon.It will also be posted on Facebook. Thank you for reading this!

What a strange year 2020 is!