kim shuck

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June 5 Ė I donít sell to the public and why

By K. Shuck

Flatteringly a number of people have asked me why I donít make my beading available to the public. I have nothing against the public. This is not a judgment of those who do sell to them; this is not to say that I have not or that I never will again. I just donít sell my work to the average run of folk. There really are things that money cannot buy for you. Here are some reasons.

The first reason is that I donít have to. These days Iím asked to make something about once a week. If you figure that most things will take about a week that sounds like a good rate of project pile up. When you figure that some things can take a month you can see how the projects stack. When you add in that I write as well, have kids in my house, need to do the periodic load of laundry and like to breathe from time to time you can see that Iím pressed. I have about two yearís worth of projects in the queue. These projects range from beading pipe bags to shoes to vests. The pieces will grow up to be used by traditional doctors, dancers and museums (not many museums, most museums are also the public as far as Iím concerned). Iím in the blessed art position of not having to do work that I donít want to do. Iím also blessed with more work than I CAN do and I hope that my eyes hold out.

The second reason is that my work is either terribly expensive or free. Hunh? Yeah. If I accept a commission from someone that takes a month to do then that person is paying for my month, about 40 years of experience and materials. Iím expensive. Iím not expensive for what I do. Iím not expensive in the range of beaders like myself. It is, however, not boutique level pricing. It is sometimes not even gallery level pricing. The free part is harder to explain. There are members of my community who give so much to the group generally that it is not done to charge them. There are people whose need is such that it is not done to charge them. There are gifts/donations. About half of my work is given away. I get gifts back. Sometimes I wonder if Iím not getting the better side of the deal most of the time. Nevertheless, expensive or free.

Most people donít need me to be the one to bead something for them. If you want a stunning hairclip, hatband or belt buckle go to the next pow wow in your area. There are amazing artists selling their work at almost every one. Go dance. Bring one-dollar bills for the blanket dances. See regalia in motion. Buy stuff from vendors. Support the community. What do I mean that projects donít need me? When I make a pair of dance shoes for someone I make the shoes so that the leather is something I want to work on. I bead to a point and then try the shoes on again and make the person walk. I make sure that the beading wonít pull strangely. I make sure that the unique stress points are reinforced. If the client doesnít dance, they donít need me to do the beading.

I work for friends, family and community members. Iím paid as often in materials and food as I am in dollars. Iím paid in getting to see my work at events. Iím paid by seeing a gift given and the recipientís reaction. Iím paid in trade. Sometimes I take on projects that sound really cool. Sometimes someone recommends a friend to me. Sometimes my stuff is available at an auction for a community fund raiser. There are a few auctions/raffles coming up, drop me an email from my website and Iíll be happy to say where and when.

I am thrilled and delighted that people have liked my work so much that they want to own some. I wish that I were more people so that I could get everything done. I hope that this explains my position.