out with the old, in with the new

Encased floral bead - Julie Wong Sontag - Uglibeads

As a beadmaker, after a while you start to become known for certain things. When you make the same kinds of beads over and over, your customers and fans anticipate seeing more of the same from you.

Since I re-joined the beadmaking world, what I sell on my Facebook page is mostly ‘flower beads’, like the one in the photo above. I’ll tell you a secret: the only reason I make them is because I know they make other people happy. It all started with my Mom. When I was a new beadmaker, my flower beads were the first thing that my Mom went absolutely nuts over. When I show her one and watch her reaction, I can tell that they make her heart sing. And what could be better than impressing Mom?

Getting back into beadmaking, it was natural to gravitate toward something that makes my Mom happy – she’s been my biggest fan since the early days and I love to make things that she loves. There’s also the lure of the ‘Encased Floral Bead’, as beadmakers call them… they’re one of those things that a lot of people try to get the hang of in the beginning. It’s not easy to get everything just ‘right’, so when you do it feels like you’ve triumphed over a melty, hot substance that has a mind of its own.

I’ve made a bunch of flower beads now, and it’s been exciting because I get to send them out to family, to old friends, and to new friends – all over the world. They’ve been a way to connect with people – just by bringing a little beauty and happiness into people’s lives. But you know what? The more flower beads I make, the less I want to make them. They don’t make MY heart sing. Sure, when I look at one that works out perfectly, I feel happy and proud, and I really, truly do like making them.

But lately my creative spirit has been pulled in different directions. I’ve got a head filled with new ideas, stuff I can’t wait to try… and there are no flowers in there. Not like the ones I’ve been making, anyway.

So, a crossroads. Flower beads, yes or no?


I agonized over the decision – I mean, when you do this for a living, selling stuff is good, and when you make something that people like, and buy, it’s tempting to devote yourself to making more of that. But what if I could come up with new things that people also like (and buy), things that DO make my heart sing? That would be even better.

I discussed it with Mom, Chief Flower Bead Lover, and she said something about how they weren’t really ‘me’ anyway. She’s right. I’m happy letting them go, because I know there are hundreds of people out there who are known for making amazingly beautiful flower beads… and I’m not one of them.

I’m not saying that I’ll never make a flower bead again, ever. I’ll just save them for special occasions.

You’re wondering why I would decide to abandon the flower bead in the middle of my ‘flower bead every (other) day in May’ thing… It’s good timing actually – this makes the rest of the month a farewell tour of sorts. I’ll try to come up with some really good ones for you. If you’ve had your eye on a flower bead, the time is now! Each one will be made with joy and love, and extra special attention, knowing that there won’t be many more.

If you’re one of those people who bought one (or many!) of my flower beads, you should know that it’s because of YOU that I can’t wait to get up every morning and try to become better at what I do. You reminded me that beads are so much more than small, pretty pieces of glass. You got me going again, and for that I’m eternally grateful. And, you now own a special, rare piece of my journey as an artist.

Are you up for a new adventure?

“Sometimes in the winds of change we find our true direction.” – Unknown


6 thoughts on “out with the old, in with the new

  1. I love your flower beads Julie, and I really enjoyed reading this piece too! I love hearing about the ins and outs of people’s creative processes. And I really look forward to seeing your new work.

    • Thanks, Gillian! I think the creative process is so interesting too – artists don’t share the details of their fits and starts enough. To an outsider, it kind of looks like established artists were just born with this great style of work… but in reality it took years to emerge, and I’m sure they all had to make some decisions about which directions to really pursue. Interesting stuff.

    • Transition time… yeah. I’m still in my safety cocoon, making things I already know how to make, but I’m sure in time I’ll be able to strike out in new directions more and more. It’s a confidence thing… there is less self-doubt in familiarity 😉

  2. My heart does sing for anything flower, but I have the utmost confidence in your ability to lead us in a new direction! Lead on Pied Piper of the bead world! You have us in your spell!

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