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A Quandry

I'm back at work again. A drawing for Mechanical Drawing is begging for my attention. Plus I have to have the whole book done by Thursday so it's getting a bit urgent these days. I left here at 5:30, went home and mowed the lawn. Then Deb insisted I stay so she could make me dinner. She felt she hadn't been pulling her weight lately with the cooking since I've cooked every night for the last two months. I told her that was allright since she'd been going through so much shit in the last little while. So she made me a most wonderful fritata and cheesy garlic bread. Yum, the wild mushrooms were a great addition to the fritata. I'm glad we saved some to dry when we gathered them in the Spring.

So now I'm back at work and working on this site map for a small housing development. Not a great deal to do now, just have to drop in all the measurements and I can go home.

The quandy I mentioned in my subject line is one every artist goes through at some point I guess. Whether or not to sacrifice artisit creativity for commercial success.

We did an outside show over the weekend which basically was a bust financially. We did a little better than break even I suppose. At least it was a nice day and we took the time to build up our stock. It was a Hertitage Festival so we had to be in period costume. A freind of ours just finished calico peasant shirts for both of us plus a full drawstring skirt for Deb. She really looks the part of the pioneer lady now. She needs a big floppy straw planters hat though. I need to get some elk hide and make a set of leggings and a breechclout to complete my outfit. Especially now since we will be setting up the new tipi at our outside gigs.

So anyway, I was sitting there Saturday morning making a large dreamcatcher. I noticed that our neighbor in the next booth, a guy selling pumpkins painted to look like M and M's (I kid you not) was taking a keen interest in what I was doing. I finished the dreamcatcher in about 45 minutes and started working on a medicine wheel while Deb was hammering out earrings and a necklace. So the guy comes over and says "I noticed you made short work of that Dreamcatcher."

I told him I could do a large one in about an hour and the smaller ones at a rate of about 3 an hour. He seemed greatly impressed. I didn't think much of it. We get all kinds at shows. You never know what their intentions are. So later, I watched his booth for him while he went to get lunch. When he came back, I found out why he was so interested in my dreamcatchers.

He is one of these guys that is the lifeblood of flea markets. You know the folks that seem to have 10,000 pairs of cheap sunglasses or power bead bracelets made of fake plastic beads? Well this guy is one of those except he specializes in high end craft items. Apparently his supplier for dreamcatcher key rings and small dreamcathers like you hang from your rearview mirror has dried up and he's looking for a new one.

So he wants me to quote him a price on buying them in bulk. I didn't refuse right off as I've done in the past because he was a really nice guy and I at least wanted to research the idea first. Deb could go either way I think and I respect her opinion but the final decision is mine. I've had to make this choice a couple times before. 10 years ago when Brent, Eric and I first started the business back in NC, Brent and I wanted to do custom design work only but Eric wanted to go the bulk sales, flea market route. Brent has his own business now and I've still got the original. Eric hasn't been heard from in years so we see how that decision went. Not that I'm opposed to making money. I wouldn't do shows and all if I was. Still in all, I've always just wanted to to the type of work where every piece was an original. As opposed to whipping out 100 of the exact same item for people who could care less about the care I put into each piece. They just want to own a little bit of Native American kitsch.

In fact, the only real upside to this is the money. Another time, I was offered to get my stuff into one of those gift catalogs they randomly mail out to like a million people. Problem was I would have to pick one thing I make and make up like 10,000 of them. So I'd spend all of my time essentially being an assembly line worker. No thanks.

With this opportunity, I'd only be talking about dozens of pieces at a time and it would give me a steady bit of extra income for the winter when I don't do any shows anyway. And the extra cash would buy a bunch of supplies. And I would be giving peopel a quality item.

On the downside, not a lot of room for custom design. The end customer has no idea who made them or how much work went into them (nor do they care probably). A fuck of a lot of work for me and Deb. Plus I'd be contributing to the indomitable pile of Native American junk out there that has no more spiritual effect than a plastic dashboard statue of Jesus.

Honestly, if I decide to do this I'd almost rather people didn't know I was the manufacturer.

I think they call this an artistic crisis.

Weigh in if you want, I'd appreciate the input.




( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 1st, 2001 07:45 pm (UTC)

People will disagree with me, but I don't think you should do it. You've always found a way to cope with money issues... I have faith in you. I'd hate to see something made with your talented hands become a surplus like that.
Oct. 1st, 2001 07:51 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the compliment dear. You always know what to say. And deep down, that's what I'm saying to myself as well. You know how to read me well don't you?

I've got an invitation to send to you.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )


Wander aka StoneBear
Bear Dancer Studios

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