August 18, 2009

Rings & Things Product Playtime: Moving Along

As I mentioned yesterday, I had some fun experimenting with fire and metal. I am trying to spend a little time each day working on new ideas and materials, to keep me sane from all the production work I have been doing. The pictures here are works in progress, the results of just playing with the materials, and they are certainly not finished pieces at all. They might be made into finished pieces at some point, but now they are just pieces of information. What happens when I do *this* to *that*. In the top picture, various enamels and glass chunks melted to copper blanks from Rings & Things. In the middle, more of the same, and some lovely "heat painted" copper that will soon find their way into resin pendants. And the last picture is a grouping of heat painted brass pendants too. Overall, some good information here, and some parts that will go on to become other things.

I listened to a podcast at Crafty Pod the other day... an interview with Ryan Mc Abery, who is a top selling Etsy seller who recently downsized. Sometimes, success can be difficult, especially for a very small business, and particularly when it has to do with a creative product and process. I really related to this interview. Not that I am a top Etsy seller or a single mom, or any of the other specifics that Mc Acbery mentions about her life, but I really related to her thoughts about over-working and burning out. She had the courage to make a major change in her business, because she needed to change her life, and I was very impressed with her story. I have had major life changes recently too, and have been dealing with them very well. But I have been feeling like my business needs to change too, and I am ready to start doing it, so I can make the other changes I want to make in my life.

In fact, I have felt like this for a long time, but haven't had the courage or the energy to do it. Or maybe I haven't really known how to do it... that's part of it too. It is extremely hard to make changes to my product line and discontinue things and to have customers routinely come to me asking for old work. I have had a lot of press over the past 5 years, and that press keeps people coming back looking for the pieces that were published. It is very hard to say no, and in this economy, its a little crazy to turn down work. But it continues a cycle that prevents me from growing and leads me closer to burn out. That is part of what these recent experiments and playing with new materials is all about... switching gears so I can start to think differently and be creative again. I need to be firm about needing to do these things and not giving in to making old work over and over again. Because I want to keep working, and I want to make exciting new work. So I am continuing to move along, and I thank you all for your support and encouragement...


  1. Maybe the thing to do is to find a way to license the established pieces that you're no longer interested in producing so that they are still available but you are able to move forward on your artistic path. By licensing the pieces that you got press for 5 years ago but no longer wish to make individually by hand, you keep your name out there (part of the licensing agreement can be that the line be marketed under a specific name i.e. "Melanie Brooks Fantasie" or "Melanie Brooks Naturals") and the line can promote you as an artist and spawn interest in your ongoing and future work... Just letting my fingers tap as my thoughts fly... but maybe there's something in it.

  2. By all means keep playing with fire! These experiments all hold promise, and I know it's going to be fun reading your blog as you work through what to do with each of them :)


  3. I love the results of your experiments! It's awesome when you get great things from just fiddling around with new ideas!

  4. I'm with you Melanie - it's great to work on new stuff and move forward in life! And I'm vicariously living through your experimentation due to my current "condition".

    My condition being I'm doing a little more internal physical work (that whole using my body to create a baby type of thing...) than artsy craft work... and that sucks up a lot of brain power and physical strength some days...

    I really appreciate your posting pictures, stories, and links to some cool and inspiring things you have come across. I think I'm now hooked on the Crafty Pod Site now... Thank you so much for posting it and drawing attention to it. I think most artists struggle with finding a balance in life.

    Keep up the experimenting to see where life leads you! And have fun doing it (as it appears you are)!!!

  5. I totally understand what you say about burning out. I think to stay fresh and creatively alive you need to make "new things"'s important. Good for you for honouring your creative spirit! Love the post.

    Love, Violette

  6. In my past life as a potter, I got the same burned-out feeling. It's so exciting to have people actually buying your art - at first. After making the same line for years,it becomes much less exciting and the joy of creating gets lost eventually.

    Perhaps if you start declining large commissions (or maybe all commissions) as a first start, that would take some of the pressure off for you.

    I think that you've reached a point where you need to play more and work just enough to pay the bills. You have a terrific artistic talent that you should be able to cherish and nuture.

    Thanks for keeping us updated on your play time. It's a joy to watch you experiment and grow! Keep playing and please let us keep watching!

    Hugs, Chris

  7. Melanie, I feel ya. Burn out, been there, done that...too many times. I really understand what you mean about producing the same thing or "old favorites." We just have to say "no" and move on so we can grow. I have really "outgrown" my stuff and have moved on.
    You have the talent and courage to move forward and be very successful. Keep it coming.

  8. This was a good post. I felt the same way several years ago when I had a nice business making purses, which I have totally given up and headed in a new creative direction...I am a hobbiest and want to stay that way for now.