Well, no resolutions for the year because it's simply not practical to resolve to blather on about things. Instead, it's better to just write about them.
2011 was an interesting, if exhausting year. We had taken the decision to no longer do contemporary bead fairs or shows and instead devote our time to attending events organised by various groups with an historic character. This has ranged from spending time on the site of a Roman fort along Hadrian's wall to spending four days in the undercroft of the Bishop's Palace in Lincoln, with stops at York and Hastings and also a continental flavour via the Marche d'Histoires in Pontoise near Paris.
It was a big step, because we had done so many contemporary bead fairs, but the combination of the economy, the proliferation of fairs and factors including an over-load of beadmaker hobbyists at fairs brought us to the realisation that the contemporary fairs were no longer venues where we wished to trade.
It's been the right decision, we've watched the changing face of the contemporary market in the UK change considerably. People are being extremely careful with their money, as are we. It's the result of a very difficult economic structure as well as a time where the influx of beadmakers in the UK has caused a serious drop in the price of handmade beads. This will level out eventually, but it's a market at the moment where it's extremely difficult to make a living, very few beadmakers in the UK are full-time and it's quite a struggle to make ends meet if you rely strictly on the income from what is a very niche, and frankly luxury market. You can reduce your prices to match the market in low-end handmade beads or you can grit your teeth, stick to your pricing and hope that you can weather the economic storm.
Or, you can do as we have done, and several other people. Find something you love and dive in. Historic work has been a pleasure for us, but it has not been simple or easy as we now have lost the luxury of simply creating things straight out of our mind, but have replaced it with a disciplined approach to research and reproduction of historic beads that has been fulfilling for us both. The partnership of research and creation has been worth the years of effort put into it, every day there is something new to do, new information to absorb and the challenge of bringing history to life.
Holding a piece of history in your hand, that's what we are about. It's not going to make us rich but we love it. There's nothing to compare with waking up and looking out of the tent at a historic battlefield or walking through ruins over 2000 years old. That's what makes us rich.
Thank you for keeping us going in 2011.