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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What Are We Doing? no. 1

What Are We Doing?

I'm hoping this will be a regular column from me. Technical difficulties have prevented me from posting sooner, but I'm aiming to make Friday my day for updates.

Some of you may know I'm in the process of getting a new bead group together in London. It's been slow. I started spreading the idea around in January of 2006, and now it's the end of May and we've only met twice! But now we're started, and it's just a matter of building momentum.

Let me start with why I'm doing this. I started beading about five years ago. I'd done a few projects before, but hadn't really thrown myself into it. When I did, I was floating on air for the first six months or so. I thought I'd really and truly found my Thing. But after a while, the first rush of adrenaline died, and I'd done many of the ideas I'd had and realised others were not going to happen for years, until I found the right tools, beads, techniques, or even vocabulary - try looking for bead caps when you don't know the name for them and don't have a local bead shop where you can ask!

I moved to London with only the beginnings of a bead education. I had no idea where more than two of the bead shops in London were, and I didn't know how to find any others. I could have asked in the two shops I did know, but they were always busy, or didn't seem willing to answer that sort of question. I slowly learned where most of the London shops were, and went to a show or two, but it was so hard to find these things that eventually I gave up and put beading on the back burner for a year or two. There were a few more knocks along the path that put me off, but that's about how it happened.

Then in January I took it up again, and as I'd recently found a very friendly bead shop, things seemed to be looking up. And I thought maybe it was time for me to start my own group, to help other beaders out there, and to encourage other people to keep trying.

If you get a group of creative people together, anything could happen. My first concern is always going to be accessibility - I want to make sure that the group can welcome anyone, at any level. I would love it if someone just happened to be walking past the shop some day while we were there, and had no idea what was in the shop, but came in and bought a strand, and sat down and joined us. "So, which end do I put the thread in again?" I'd love that. I'd also love to have someone sit down at the table and say "Oh, well, I can show you how to do that - I won first place at the BeadDreams show two years ago doing that." All abilities, and all levels of commitment will always be welcome. If you can only make it once a year, and you've only made safety-pin things with seed beads, we'd be just as happy to have you there that one time as we would to have the person who runs her own online jewelry business and never misses a meet-up. And anyone who drops by from out of town is welcome to sit down with us, too - whether you're on a daytrip from Cambridge or visiting for two weeks from Hong Kong!

I'd like it to be someplace where people would be comfortable trying new things - the stringer who's never done freeform peyote, the needle-weaver who's never tried PMC, the seedbeader who wants to try wire, the jewelry-maker who wants to try sculpture, the person who does peyote wallhangings and wants to give polymer clay a try. As I've been saying elsewhere lately, you have to ask the question.

So... WHAT are we doing? I'm still sorting that part out. I have a list of challenges and projects for us to consider trying. I hope to tell you about them in future columns, and have suggestions from other people about things they'd like to try. You never know if the next thing you try, whether it's a technique, material, tool, style, or what, will be the thing that you then love bestest in all the world forever and back. You'll never know if you don't try, and you'll never get better if you don't try again!

Do drop by Buffy's on a Thursday evening and see if we're there. 6-8pm, every other Thursday with our next meet-up scheduled for the 25th of May. You never know what we might be up to!

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