Sunday, May 20, 2012

Beading with Sequins class debrief

It was a small group of women who signed up for my class yesterday at the Harwood Art Center. I was surprised that none of them had done any bead embroidery. But they were all experienced in art and craft, and two were professional artists. And I could tell they has all used needle and thread, so I knew they'd catch on quickly, and they did. After I teach, I always like to consciously reflect on what worked and what could have worked better.
This is quickly becoming one of my favorite classes to teach, for many reasons.
  1. It's easy to pack for
  2. It's easy to prep for (just a little practice on my sequins samplers and I'm ready to "splain it.")
  3. The pace is relaxing -- For beginner groups, I can focus on the basic stitches. For ultra-experienced students, I can introduce more techniques and variations, because they get the basics done fast. For mixed groups, advanced students aren't bored because they can go in their own direction.
  4. There's always a magical moment -- Stitching with sequins is not rocket science but it's not exactly intuitive either. There's always a moment when the students say they're so happy to learn the techniques. Instant gratification is afoot. :-)
  5. I make money doing something I really enjoy.
Once again, the students suggested that I publish my techniques. I don't always talk about the "business" of beadwork in class, but this time I did. I think I'm mulling all this over. I shared with them -- and they nodded in understanding (thank you!) that there is a window of opportunity for publishing a technique before it gets out there and becomes common knowledge. I'm happy to share what I know, but I'd also like to make a dollar at it.

So I need to decide -- do I want to self-publish a booklet, propose a magazine article or two, approach a publisher, or what?

  • Self-publish -- I wrote a 20-page booklet for my color theory workshops, and I'm just about ready to start selling them on Etsy. I have the equipment I need to produce them at home, a little at a time. Do I want to do the same with my sequin instructions?
  • Magazine articles -- I've written many craft magazine articles and I'd love to do more. The money isn't much, but it keeps me in the game, ya know? My first invitation to speak (thank you Nancy Z!) came right after my very first magazine article came out. Should I pitch an article on a sequin stitching technique?
  • Book -- The least appealing choice for me, but also the one where I stand to make a nice chunk of change, is pitching a book to a publisher. It's an awful lot of work that involves a lot of people besides me, which means I have to prioritize it and work on their schedule. There goes my beading time.
Ironically, this is the only class I have ever done with no written handouts -- because they are not really needed. And yet, in every class, my students urge me to publish the techniques. Interesting, eh?

Thanks for reading. If you have experience publishing a craft book or want to weigh in, feel free.


  1. I'm not in the publishing business, but however you choose to publish, I could certainly use good info on stitching with sequins.

    A magazine article might be a good way to test the level of interest, if you wanted to reach a larger audience. However you choose to publish, if and when you do, I'll buy it.

  2. Mary,

    Your class sounds like so much fun! I wish I lived in New Mexico -- I can see that you have a thing or two to teach me.

    On the subject of publishing, here's what bead artist Robin Atkins has to say:

    Also, a friend of mine, Cyndi Lavin, has self-published a series of e-books on bead embroidery.

    This is a great way to go about it if you want to publish a "chapter" at a time. And if you have any questions for her, I'm sure she'd be happy to help.

    I have a ton of other links, but I don't want to overload you. Whatever you decide to do, I'll be excited! And I'll be happy to help in whatever way you need, even if it's just being a cheerleader.

  3. Being on my 5th self-published book (booklet?) I can give you some comments from my experience if you wish - email me

  4. Thanks, y'all, I wish I could figure a way to show all comments right there below the post, without having to click.

    Hi Anne, good point about testing the waters, and thanks. :-)

    And yeah, I admire Robin's self-publishing skills a LOT. I was surprised that she doesn't have formal training in graphic arts cause her layouts and design and writing is so professional. But I'm embarassed to say, I know Cindy but didn't even know she had self-published, I am gonna go check that out ASAP!

    Judith -- I will for sure contact you! Thanks, I hope we get meet up again next year when you're back in the SW


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