When I was approached by Interweave in mid-2006 to write a book, it was one of those opportunities that you wished for but never thought you would have so quickly. First of all, I had just started writing projects for Beadwork and Bead Unique magazines in winter of 2005. I had just "entered" into the bead world officially in early 2005 so technically had a lot to "prove" and show the world. Writing a book was an eventual goal of mine but "with time". Like fine wine, with time I would be able to fine tune my craft. When you are approached with this opportunity, you think about it but you know your answer would be "yes" no matter how, you would get it done.
Not many people at that time knew that I could seed bead. Not many people except those at the local beadstore, San Gabriel Bead Company. I didn't have a repetriore of designs waiting in the wings to submit for a book. I didn't have a book proposal ready to pitch to an editor. I didn't have ANY designs. What I had was a sampling of my work of a few classes I took while still working as an engineer, to show my color sense and a "promise" that I had a great passion to share my ideas with the world. I don't teach workshops and had never written seed beaded instructions. My only training in instruction writing was writing step by step "standard operation procedures" (SOPs) for my department. I am the most critical person of my work. What you see in Bead Romantique was designed in an amazing timeframe. All the designs were beaded and written in three month intervals, less than a year's time. What you see in the pages were not the only designs submitted. What you see is what was selected. There were a total of thirty projects. And those that were not used in the book, have since appeared in Beadwork magazine (and two other magazines).
The book is a culmination of the designs in my dreams... this head of mine... and no one expected what would come out for the pages of Bead Romantique... not even me. I generally don't know what I will design when I sit down to work on an assignment. Sure, I collect ideas from images and sketch here and there. However, the best designs are the ones I least expect.. where one stitch moves surprisingly in a different direction to yield a fabulously exciting new shape or component.. Aha moments. I love those. No one knew me as a seed beader therefore there should be "no expectations" of me, right? The only expectations were my own - to write projects that would challenge me and my fellow beaders.
I must admit that when Bead Romantique was just about to release, I told Tricia, my editorial director at Interweave, that I had some trepidation. (paraphrasing) "Will people love my work or will they say "who does she think she is?" I have welcomed all criticism, good and bad. A majority of the responses have been positive. As a bibliophile, I buy lots of books so have an opportunity to wander around Amazon quite a bit. Amazon is the place that has the most open method of criticism for an author's work. You don't even have to own the book or have bought it from Amazon to comment. You can even add pictures of non-related items to a book's page. This leaves a LOT of freedom and POWER to a potential reviewer! Frankly, I have never written a review on any book. I don't depend on someone else's criticism of a book to purchase a book. It is interesting though some of the comments you read.
I found two interesting comments made on Bead Romantique that I thought I would share on the blog with commentary. You can read more on Amazon if you wish...
Not What I thought..., September 17, 2008
(Janesville, Wisconsin United States) - The book had nice designs, but a lot of variations of the same thing. Not what I expected from this author.
Lisa's Comment: This particular review was interesting to me because the reviewer stated "Not what I expected from this author". I didn't know what to make of that statement since I felt no one expected anything from me due to me being an "unknown" in the seed bead world. Was it positive as in I surprised them with exciting projects or they expected much more from me? Hmmmm... I found the comments interesting nonetheless.
Also, the book does have several variations using similar components but in different projects to show you that you can expand from the basics. I can not assume that everyone who purchases Bead Romantique is intermediate to advanced level so there are matching earrings to the larger projects for those who are just starting out with beads. This was one of the premises of the book which was covered in the introduction. It is how I design - modular components. I enjoy seeing what one component can become in expanded designs. To say that the book had "a lot" of variations of the same thing I believe is not really paying attention. I am glad to read that the reviewer found the book had "nice designs". Thank you very much. I worked hard to create every one of those and tried to be unique in my design approach. I hope you enjoy the projects if indeed you really purchased my book and definitely looked through the projects carefully.
An OK read with enough projects to keep you busy, October 23, 2008
(Victoria, Australia) I liked the diagrams showing the progress of steps, the tips and pictures of the designs in different colours. I would have liked to see a sample of at least five projects (pictures only) before buying.
Lisa's Comments: For the next review, the beader noted that the book was "OK" and they would have liked to have seen photos of the projects. I'm not sure why she rated the book a "three" though given her comments above were quite positive. Amazon has a feature that allows you to see select pages from the book. If that is not enough you can also view additional pages from Interweave's site which can be linked from this blog or my website. There are obvious reasons why not all the pictures are shown for every project of the book on Amazon.
Rating systems are a personal evaluation. I ask anyone considering my book to judge for yourself whether the projects interest you. If you are up for a challenge, even if you are a begineer, I promise that I will take you on a journey through history. And take the components that I teach you into a different direction to make a design your own. Bead creatively and your work will speak your own voice.
I want to take the time now to thank those who emailed me directly and shared their comments about their impressions of this book. Many of you have also shared photos of your finished projects. You have also visited my booth at shows to proudly wear your finished projects. Thank you and keep 'em coming. This response and feedback encourages me to continue designing and writing for publication. Please note that I do not teach at this time and don't know if I can find time to do so in the future since I get myself involved in lots of different projects. As to kits, I am still thinking about it. I may just write new projects and create kits based on those in the future.
I have also received many requests from teachers wanting to teach Bead Romantique designs at their local beadstores. Please note that generally this violates the copyright infringement laws. Although some teachers have contacted me to ask permission, I also know that there may be others who will not and I can't do anything about that. I will grant any teacher who wants to teach Bead Romantique designs permission with two criteria
1. That you have the courtesy to email me, let me know which project and what store you wish to teach the project. I want to have a record so you don't get in trouble with copyrights.
2. That you sell a copy of Bead Romantique with the class fee. This ensures that I get "credit" for the original design even if you are selecting your own colors or changing out some components.
I hope that everyone realizes writing a book is a LOT of work. Writing a book with all new projects is even more difficult. The challenge of compiling this book was actually more on the balance of time between my glass work, exhibit schedule, and other things in life. I placed a lot of energy and heart into writing Bead Romantique. I give my techniques in this book and in my articles freely. I write and share because I want to elevate beading to an art form so that many others can continue to enjoy this traditional craft. I don't ask for much in return. Besides, there are many other hobbies I could be doing besides writing/designing for publication. For instance, I could be knitting that dream sweater or finishing my hexagon blanket.
For projects appearing in bead magazines please only use those for "personal use" as one can get carried away with copyright infringement. One thing I encourage beaders to do is to take ideas from the projects to make it "YOUR OWN". I write because I want to "teach" through my writing... not so that someone can take my design to sell it or teach it as their own. Once I write for publication, it is the risk that I take. I take the risks knowing that there are "ripoff artists" out there which is unavoidable as there are always unscrupulous folks in every walk of life and in every industry. I only "hope" that I don't meet any one like that in person. (There is no knowing what I'd do to you! haha)
Thank you for reading my thoughts for today... With your encouraging emails I continue to design with my heart and from my dreams, which are plentiful. I hope to continue to share many more designs with you as one of the Designers of the Year in Beadwork 2009. I am honored to have been chosen as one of four designers for this new feature! I don't design for contests or exhibits and probably never will. I design for wearability, feminity and romanticism not for show. I hope you enjoy and will be excited to see what is yet to come... there are many more dreams in this head of mine.
Back to getting ready for Tucson