We Are Handmade

Do you love this global community we live in?  I have a high value for shopping local and supporting local small businesses, but at the same time, there are also a lot of small businesses that are flying right under the radar of the big-box stores, and proving by the thousands that we can do a lot more without them than we ever thought possible. One of the things that makes this possible is the online marketplace.

Usually I keep myself busy (very busy) showing you my latest creations or telling you about my next show, and I guess that's a good way to start. But as I've become more comfortable in my small business / handcrafted / artistic skin, I really have learned to appreciate the value of helping others or being helped by others who are at different points in this creative life path.

A few months ago, I had the privilege of being able to help a friend who was ill by being able to take on the leadership of the ArtFire Guild we were both on. As a result, I acquired the rather grand title of Guild Master of Members of the SRAJD (Self-Representing Artists in Jewelry Design) at ArtFire.

This is my latest ArtFire collection, created for this amazing group of artists - I guess I was in a summer-theme mood, and I love the colors I found as a result.

When I began this crazy thing I called a business, I was more accustomed to the ways actors and writers interact. Although I love both groups with all my heart, it seems each has their own way to try to convince you why you're destined to be poor and miserable and desperate if you're crazy enough to pursue what you love. You become conditioned to getting a litany of the misery that awaits you, or that others may parade as war stories, of a sort, to prove their loyalty to their grand pursuit. Or maybe that's just the part I chose to hear at that point in my life, still more afraid to succeed than to fail.

As a result, I was was somewhat taken aback to discover what welcoming people there were on the forums at ArtFire (my first introduction). These were people who were truly experts in a niche market, and generous with their help, their insights, and even their time, taking time to understand the very basic questions beginners must ask. And we still do this for each other on nearly a daily basis.

I do think we're a community, but it stretches farther and wider than anyone would you might realize. It's great, even, to realize how much there is in common across art forms and across technology. It's eye-opening to encounter groups that may have chosen to see each other as competition, and therefore make their circles smaller and smaller, but instead have chosen to see each other as friends and colleagues, embracing the opportunity to learn from each other by helping. We are handmade.

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." -George Bernard Shaw


  1. What a wonderful post, Donna. This is exactly why Artfire is such a great place to be a part of, and the SRAJD has an amazing amount of talent within the ranks. This is the epitome of what a true community looks like, and while there are plenty of other sites to sell on and communities to belong to, this one is my favorite. Again, wonderful post! Julie and Blu

  2. Great post Donna! Thanks for sharing it in the Indie A-List forums. Community truly makes a difference in the handmade industry, We are all fighting similar battles, thriving to achieve greatness and learning from one another along the way!

  3. Yes exactly! Left to ourselves it would be easy to give up or just get lost along the way. We help each other in more ways than we even know. Thanks for reading!

  4. Artfire is a great community of artisans willing to help fellow artisans succeed. I feel blessed to be among such a group of people and talent. Your post is wonderful and enlightening.

  5. I love Artfire community. Selling online is hard and you can't do it yourself. We need to work together as a community, helping each other out. And I'm glad to be part of Artfire community :-)

  6. Oh, I do love the AF love fest! I'm glad you liked it Nat :) I'd like to say that this community does happen in many handmade communities, and AF is a terrific example of one of them!

  7. I agree that the people here on ArtFire are very friendly and helpful and make it easier to persevere!

  8. Wonderful post Donna Jo. Thank you for taking over the ArtFire group. I do not participate much in groups there or on Etsy, but I do follow along and glean information from them.


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