Saturday, March 26

I started making jewelry in 2001. On a quest to somehow turn these magical and colorful round glass pieces into necklaces, I asked everyone I knew to please spill anything they knew about jewelry-making.

At some point within my impassioned quest, which included asking my parents, friends, siblings and co-workers a million questions, I bought a soldering iron. Then my dad mentioned that his boss worked with stained glass, and he arranged for us to visit his stained glass studio one day. After a brief tutorial, I found myself leaving with the answer I'd been searching for and a big bucket of colorful stained glass scraps. At the time, I was working a full-time job at a newspaper and working a part-time job at an after school daycare. Some days I'd work from 8:00 am-5:00 pm at the newspaper, head straight to my other job, where I'd work from 5:00 pm-10:30 pm, then would rush home to practice what I'd learned- often staying up until 1:00 am or later practicing.

I had experimented with lots of art forms, having taken quite a few art classes in college, but never found my niche. I kind of enjoyed photography, had fun playing around with paints, and experimented with drawing. When I started working with stained glass, it was felt kind of like you feel when you're first falling head-over-heels in love. If I wasn't actually making something out of glass, I was thinking about my next creation.

Have you ever started something that seems promising, hit a snag, then find yourself taking the easy road rather than persisting? I was thinking today about all the people who have helped me persist throughout my mini journey. Although I have far to go, it doesn't mean I don't appreciate every little step. If not for my dad introducing me to his boss, I may have grown too frustrated trying to learn on my own. If not for the gift of tools that first Christmas, I may never have been had the money to buy the tools that make cutting glass more easy and therefore more enjoyable to work with. After my bucket o' glass scraps grew smaller, my dad bought me scraps from a stained glass shop. He has also used his magical woodworking skills to make me display pieces, and my favorite belonging in the entire world- my tall red art cabinet. If my place was burning down, and I could bring one thing with me, the red cabinet would be it.

I did my first art fair in the summer of 2002. I can't imagine what I would have done if not for my mom, who loaned me $100 for my "cash register" during a time when I was lucky to have $10 in my checking account. She also hung out with me the majority of the day (not only that day, but during subsequent art fairs in the past few years), in spite of me usually insisting that I would be okay spending a few hours by myself. Secretly, I was so happy for the company during my first art fair experience, and during any art fair for that matter. You just can't imagine what it's going to be like being on the other side of the table until you've gone through it, and although my first event was rather uneventful due to small crowds, it was an awesome learning experience and I'm glad for having gone through it.

My sweet sisters have also spent hours out in the sun and wind, helping me with the busier art fairs in the following years. Outdoor events can be challenging, and I appreciate that they take time out of their busy schedules to help, and still love me in spite of the fact that I get really nervous as I'm generally running on 3 hours sleep and am all out of sorts on those days. They were my walking billboards, my encouragement, and my creative advisors.

And speaking of those who have been here throughout my mini journey, my boyfriend has experienced everything from the complete elation after my first big sale, where I was literally doing the happy dance in the living room, to the moments where I'm frustrated, super exhausted, or in the messy midst of art fair season where my things are covering literally every table and surface in our apartment. You know you've got a keeper with a capital K when your twenty-something boyfriend visits you at an art fair, and tells you and your sister to take a break and wander the art fair while he mans the booth full of stained glass jewelry. When my sister and I came back to the booth, he was standing right in the middle of the booth happily chatting with several customers.

Many other friends and family members have been so supportive! I still have a very long way to travel on my journey, of course, but still appreciate the great people I am surrounded with.


Lynette said...

I loved this little story of the life of Nicole in her stained glass saga. Just think if your quiet Dad had not taken you to Wayne's you would still be wishing you were doing it. I live thru your stained glass career. Love Mom

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm from Singapore. I noticed you on ebay but you have stopped selling there. I'm glad i found your website. I enjoyed so much reading your journal. I'm a self-taught stained glass jewelry maker too, but i didn't get support from my parents like you did. They were against it out of love for me. They think I'll probably starve trying to sell my jewelry. But I'm still surviving ;) I'm glad to read about how you started making jewelry, i can fully understand the feeling of holding a box full of assorted stained glass scraps!! My scraps were once free as they were thrown away by the people making big stuffs, but now they charge me after knowing what i use them for >:( Anyway just to let you know, you are a great artisan. Just love your jewelry and you. Cheers Chu Ling :)

: the art of living : said...

Chu Ling,

Thank you so much for stopping by my website! I have admired your things on eBay that I found when searching for "stained glass necklaces." You have such a lovely style.

Anyone reading these comments should check out your things- here is the link to your website:

So beautiful!

And I'm so glad to hear that despite your parents worries, you are chasing your dream. I admire that so much. I wish you the best in your ventures, and was so delighted to get this message from you.

If we lived a little closer, we would surely be friends for our crazy obsession with buckets of old stained glass pieces. :)

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Thanks Nicole for doing the advertising for me ;)
Yes I agree!! If we lived a little closer, who knows we might be screaming with delight everytime we share our works! ;P

Chu Ling

Anonymous said...

Oh, that looks like the area at riverboat days. What no mention of me??? Am i not important as well? :)

I need to read your site more often me thinks. :)