Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Interview with Margot Potter

Interview with Margot Potter, artist, designer, writer, and crafter extraordinaire,
by Jean Yates, guest editor for Art Bead Scene, June 2008

Margot Potter, the Impatient Beader™, has us all in a whirl with the new directions in which she has been heading this year! It is sort of mind blowing, as you will see.

Of course her charming and funny persona continues to appear both onscreen and in print. In this interview, we will hear more about that! There is a lot to look forward to from Margot in the upcoming months as she unveils whole new aspects to her already incredible accomplishments. This marvel of a woman doesn't just climb every mountain and ford every stream, she IS following her rainbow, until she finds her dream. It isn't always easy, yet Margot never gives up. Her art as well as her attitude is an inspiration which reflect that.

Not only the fantastic and world renowned Impatient Beader™ these days, she is also the incredible and marvelous Impatient (yet extremely adept and ingenious) Impatient Crafter™!
So let's hear more about everything and get up to date with Margot Potter!
Margot! I have been hearing about all sorts of exciting new things going on, with you at the epicenter! I do know for a fact that you have switched over from our jewelry making group to the sister crafting group: Crafty Bloggers. Are you excited about a new direction which can be described in any specific way yet? May we know a little bit about what is going on?

"Well this is a good year for me in terms of growth. I do think that my new focus is a natural progression to anyone who has read my books. I’ve been expanding outward from center since I started this career. I just realized this year that I’d crossed a threshold and my work was far more complex than the moniker “beader” implied. I’m doing a lot of collage, mixed media, altered arts, general crafting and integrating it all into my jewelry design and also a potpourri of other projects. So I’ve decided to re-brand myself as The Impatient Crafter™, still keeping jewelry making as my core but integrating these other elements into the mix. I have two new books coming out next winter. One is a gorgeous book about architectural exposed wire jewelry designs with fellow Beadalon Design Team Members Katie Hacker and Fernando DaSilva. The other is a mixed media jewelry technique book of which I am extremely proud called Beyond the Bead. In this book I show the reader how to make their own beads and components out of a variety of unexpected materials and it’s been a ton of work but absolutely worth it. I’m really stretching my wings and it means I’m taking risks. My hope is that the risks will pay off, but that remains to be seen!"
You authored three mind bending, totally fun books as "The Impatient Beader™”: The Impatient Beader, The Impatient Beader Gets Inspired, and Sparkletastic, a trilogy considered classic at this point! They are fun, they are witty, and they are also flat out good jewelry and craft design books. They even helped The Bead Women of Denver, a group of global refugees who had been displaced from their own countries to learn to laugh and stay stalwart in their time of despair.

"Yes, well, The Bead Women actually found me and I could not be more delighted. Sharon McCreary, a true shero, who is a volunteer helping refugee women in Denver assimilate into our culture had a stash of bead books she shared with the women when they asked about making jewelry. Crafting was a familiar thing for them and of course creativity is a universal language. For whatever reason, the images in my books really spoke to them. They couldn’t read the words, so it was all about the pictures. Sharon posted an image of a woman holding my first book smiling on the Jewelry Making Site. Tammy Powley contacted me about it and we arranged some manufacturer support and more books to be sent to them. They are now selling their designs and it’s such a touching story to see how powerful this has been for them and for the younger teen aged women in their group. Women in many countries aren’t used to making or having their own money. The things these women from Somalia, Sudan and Darfur and the Middle East have survived are to me, unfathomable. I’m a real believer in the power of the creative to change lives."
Here is a link for The Bead Women:The Bead Women

Let's go onward now to what is happening for you as we look at your career today. Would it be accurate to say you are now planning a career change or does it just seem that way? Is it more just a natural progression in which you are involved, following your heart?

"I think it’s more of a natural progression. It’s very symbiotic. I’ve always been creative and as a kid I painted, made sculptures out of clay and quilting techniques, sketched, wrote poetry, created t-shirts and altered clothing, sang and performed in backyard plays...creative folks tend to be restless and multi-faceted. I can’t do the same thing over and over again or I get bored silly. I am definitely following my heart, something I started doing seriously five years ago, once I stopped trying to force life to bend to my will and began allowing for things to unfold, everything shifted. Since then, I have been mindful of paying attention to the road signs, particularly the ones off of the beaten path. It’s really a journey and I’m a big believer in throwing on your trusty pith helmet and grabbing your scythe and braving the wilderness. It makes for a far more interesting adventure."

Mini collage pendant and necklace copyright 2008 Margot Potter

What happened to make you want to change?

"From the second The Impatient Beader™ book on, I was exploring mixed media jewelry techniques. I was using decoupage and metal, rubber stamps and pigments, embroidery thread and’s really easy to see my work expanding if you thumb through my books and my magazine work. Then I met Robin Beam in Tucson serendipitously and she invited me to Ranger U, which literally changed my life. Suddenly I had a whole new toy box I simply had to explore. This is another perfect example of allowing for the possibilities, Robin wandered into my classroom and we started talking and it all unfolded from there. Now she is a treasured friend and mentor. That was a road sign and I paid attention."

He loves me, he loves me not. Mini collage pendant with vintage French beads and Swarovski Crystal copyright 2008 Margot Potter

How will your business activities change? Is it something we may know?

"Well, I’m still figuring that out. I intend to start selling things at retail first via Etsy and then through my website. I’m a skootch reticent because this whole journey started with my husband and I having a gallery where we sold sterling silver Indonesian jewelry, vintage clothing, beads funky global fair trade handicrafts and my finished jewelry. It was a tough row to hoe, to the degree that we lost everything and had to start over. Basically, we were playing to the wrong audience and we realized that as we progressed. What we should have done was build a website, we had amazing stuff. After that I couldn’t figure out how to make selling jewelry at retail pay enough to be more than a hobby. People don’t get the part where your design eye is worth money; they think they can make the same thing. Maybe they can, but surely not the way you did it and they’d probably not come up with that ingenious design. That’s worth something, only competition with cheap goods from overseas makes it hard. So...the plan is to create and sell one-of-a-kind jewelry items with some of my new hand crafted elements and rare and interesting beads, sell my own hand crafted beads and pendants and to also sell vintage and new mixed media supplies. Then the big plan is to license product."

Now I really need to get the true story on this! I love these hysterical videos you are making! I have to tell you, Margot, they are worth watching over and over! Nobody does this better than you and your "trusty crew"! I love them, as does everyone else and I have actually been learning from them as well! What a winning combo. Please give us the links to them: how can the readers of ABS see them? People, you have to see these videos! And if you have already seen them, see them again! Whoo hoo! You know how fun they are!

"All along I have known that the video element would be the catapult for my brand. I’m (like you Jean) a trained actress and a vocalist and I am very comfortable on camera. I have a quirky sense of humor and I knew if I did how-to videos, they’d be funny and informative. My books are funny, which is why I think people like them. The whole original concept of “The Impatient” craft books was that they be about making crafting appealing for the Average Jane and easy for her to fit into the spaces in between. I want her to have a firm grasp of good technique, but to be able to make things that look more complicated than they actually are. I wanted to empower her and not make her feel inadequate. I want the books to be as fun to read as the projects are fun to recreate. So of course, the videos follow this same formula. I think that most crafting videos are dull as dirt. It’s not enough to have a cool looking set or editing or host, it has to be “infotaining.” Making crafting fun to watch is a challenge and I know as we progress it’s going to become harder to keep innovating concepts, but this is a real labor of love. This is the real core of where I’ve been heading and we’re having a blast as a family working on these together. My daughter is the best thing about every video and my husband is quickly becoming Martin Scorcese."

Here’s the link to my YouTube Channel where you can see the videos:

Margot, to totally change horses here, I would like to ask a serious question.
Do you feel that a person needs to draw the line in sharing information in order to assist other artists? How do you decide when and where that line should be drawn? This is something I have a really hard time with! I need advice from the pro! Thanks!

"I think there comes a point where you have to ask yourself what it would have been worth to you if you’d not had to work for any of what you achieved, if everything had been handed to you by someone else who did the hard work. People do not appreciate what they get for free, they generally then expect more. There’s a Buddhist saying I love, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” We all have to do the work, it’s part of the deal. It’s absolutely crucial to pay it forward and I think you and I do that all of the time with advice we share freely in our blogs and in a myriad of other ways privately and personally. That being said, it’s also okay to say, “No. I’ve worked hard for this and you need to do the same.” It’s not our job to do the work for other people; we’ve both got plenty of our own.

One thing to consider is to offer your advice for pay as a personal consultant. If folks realize it’s going to cost them something they will take it seriously and either they’ll pony up or they’ll figure it out on their own. Either way you’ve created an exchange of energy and I think that’s very important."

Here we go again, to a completely different type of question, seeing as I have you here right at this moment, and I find you so fascinating:

If we were to look ahead, by way of a magic mirror, to a year from now, and we could actually see the Margot of June 2009, what would she be doing? How would she be different? What would still remain the same?

"I honestly have no idea. I’ve learned to live in the moment as I’ve gotten older after many, many visits from Chaos over the years. What do I visualize though? I visualize that in a year I’ve made this career pay us enough money that I’m not worried any longer about my student loans and our mortgage and my daughter’s college education and having to keep my “day job” to make ends meet. I want to continue doing what I love and enjoying what is real, which is the love of my family and friends. I visualize that I am still passionate about what I’m doing and it’s feeding me creatively. I visualize I have expanded my ability to love and become a more compassionate being and learned to let things ride a little more. To me, what matters isn’t so much what we achieve as how we love and are loved in return. I mean that in the great cosmic sense of unconditional love, which is the point of all of this. Most of what we concern ourselves with is drivel and pap. “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” Antoine du St. Exupery.

I hope that in some way, I’m helping other people, particularly women, give themselves permission to Create Without Filters™."

Thanks for the great insights, Margot!: Do you want to say anything special at this time to the ABS readers, all of whom know and love you, your blog and your books?

"I want to say, “Thank you! Thank you for supporting creativity and for spreading it around the world and growing good things. Thank you for supporting artists who do what they love every day because they can’t imagine another way of living. Thank you for buying my books and reading my blog and sending me amazingly inspirational emails about the ways creativity has changed your lives. Keep it up, you’re shifting the world for the better when you create.”

Oh! I almost forgot! To wind this up, I would like to add something you frequently end your blog entries with:

"Rock on with your bad selves!"

Hurray for Margot Potter! She is GREAT!

Glitterati Skull Earrings and Ring Copyright 2008 Margot Potter

Tres Chic Mixed Media Collage Purse copyright 2008 Margot Potter


Margot Potter said...


Thank you. I truly appreciate all you do for all of us in the bead world. You're a beacon of light and hope and joy and I'm blessed to call you friend.

This was without doubt the best interview I've ever had.


Anonymous said...

Margot's new books sounds like another winner, even expanding on what she's already been doing with mixed media. I can't wait until it's out. Boy, Jean, you always ask such great questions!

Kim Miles said...

I adore Margot, her work/play/art, and her videos! Thanks for the great interview, and also for the link to The Bead Women! Terrific inspiration.
Besos! xoxo!

Melissa J. Lee said...

This is such an impressive interview, from Margot's sublime craftiness, as expressed by her beautiful, original designs, to her business savvy (down to the smallest details - I was particularly impressed by her consistent and correct usage of the "tm" symbol, which as a trademark person, I always notice). Margot, may I come sit at your feet?? Just for a few days??

Jean Katherine Baldridge said...

Margot Potter, as I have learned from knowing her, is one of the most remarkable people I could possibly EVER be lucky enough to know and to love!

By the way, a fun note to this interview which may not be to obvious, is the fact that the pendants on the necklaces Margot designed are entirely handmade art beads, created by Margot herself. Addiionally, the "Glitterati" set, which Margot shows us how to make in her funny, great video which I adore, is also a crafty handmade art bead set created by the fantastic Ms. Potter, who rules!


Margot Potter said...

Well ladies, thank you. I can't tell you how lovely it is to hear such nice things being spoken about me, especially from women whom I admire so.


Anonymous said...

I do hate to be negative and this woman is certainly creative. But she is not the first person to do mixed media and the necklaces that she has copyrighted have been made by hundreds of nobodies like myself for a few years now, it's nothing new that she invented. The same goes for the purse. I saw a necklace in a magazine this month that looked almost exactly like one I had made 10 years ago. It's very rare that any of us do something that hasn't been done before us.

Margot Potter said...

Dear Anonymous

I certainly would never, ever claim to have invented collage, my grandmother was doing it back in the 60s! I do far more than what you see here, it's just one aspect of the many art forms I explore endlessly. The images here are, though, images I personally brought back from a recent trip to Paris and are from the 1930s rather than the usual Victorian or 1950s images you often see in collage. The backgrounds are all handmade by me using inks and other mediums and the beads are hand selected vintage beads again from my recent trip to Paris. The only thing I've copyrighted are my images and the specific configuration of beads, inks, paints and paper.

Nothing is new under the sun, this is true. I merely share my passion for what thrills me at any given moment, which shifts endlessly.

I always wonder about comments that begin with "I do hate to be negative" and then proceed to do exactly that. We should all of us, women particularly, try to lighten up a little and allow room for each of us to shine. the main point of everything I do. To spread negativity only creates sorrow, for you and others. I prefer myself to spread creativity, it is, in fact, the opposite of destruction and that is the point of art.

Best of luck to you in your work and may your muse continue to inspire you.


Heather Powers said...

I think there are very few in our industry who do something new as far as techniques go. There is endless inspiration and variety using those tired and true techinques that transform them into our art work. And above that, to make designs that are are fun and inspiring for your average crafty gal is not an easy task. Margot makes creating a light-hearted joy for many women. Thanks for sharing with us Margot, I look forward to seeing your new books, videos and projects.