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New Venture

Recently, I decided to start a new hobby. I hadn’t had an actual hobby for about 20 years, since I started a desktop publishing company in 1988. I guess I always felt that hobbies were a waste of time, and I should remain focused on the efforts that paid the bills instead of playing.

Now I’m older and my priorities are a tiny bit different. All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl, to paraphrase the saying – so I started keeping my eyes open for something fun to do. A few months ago, I saw a segment on a TV show about the Beads of Courage program. Artisans all across the country make glass beads and donate them to pediatric cancer patients. Each time they undergo a procedure or have to stay in the hospital or have chemo, they choose a bead and wear the beads to demonstrate their journey through cancer. The part that tore me up was seeing a little two-year-old girl playing in the hospital toy room, with her father standing nearby. The girl had a big strand of beads around her neck, and her father was wearing half a dozen more. He said, “These are hers. They’re too heavy for her, so I’m wearing them for her.” In her short lifetime, that little girl had accumulated enough Beads of Courage to topple her over if she had worn them all.

Well, that did it for me – I started researching how to make glass beads. I liked the idea, but soon discovered that it required a propane torch and other specialized equipment. Plus, the glass rods were prone to shattering if heated too quickly. I could envision my cats jumping up on the table and setting themselves on fire or me putting an eye out with flying glass, so I stepped back from that avenue of creativity.

In the process of looking for books on glass beads, I saw some on polymer clay beads. I discovered that some of the same techniques could be replicated in clay, and the materials were less expensive and required much simpler tools to manipulate. Bingo! I had found my new hobby!

I started buying books like crazy and accumulating some clay and tools, but then asked myself, “Now what?” So I visited the Central Oklahoma Polymer Clay Guild monthly meeting and got acquainted with a group of experts who could show me the ropes. I discovered just how versatile a medium polymer clay is, and saw some of the group members’ items they had made. I was really sold then!

One of the first things I made was a bracelet, and when I showed it to a lady at the fitness center I go to, she immediately ordered one for herself and one for her sister. And when I showed her bracelets to some people at work, four of them ordered bracelets, too. Suddenly, my new hobby became my new business almost overnight.

I guess my priorities haven’t changed that much, after all. But if I can earn some money by doing something fun, that sounds like the best of both worlds to me. So here I go!

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