Designer Ellie Mac

9:00 AM

Ellie Mac Beads
by Eleanore Macnish

I make big, colorful, whimsical, happy beads. I have tried to make "serious" beads and I just can't do it - I don't have it in me (which is OK because there are so many lampworkers who do it so well and so beautifully!) My inspirations come from art, toys, the circus and fashion. If it is fun, big and bold - it influences me!

In 17 years of making beads and jewelry, I have written for numerous publications, sold my work through galleries and stores, taught classes, participated in juried shows, curated and judged shows and have had my work included in many books and magazines; I have been very fortunate, made many friends and have learned A LOT!

Here are a few of the things I have learned:

1. *Have a Gallery Contract*

When I was first accepted at a gallery, I learned the value of having a contract and keeping a record of the items I sent to them. It was a great fifteen year old gallery in San Francisco - but in financial trouble. They closed nine months after I started with them and I lost all of the work I had given to them. I should have had a contract and I should have checked

in with them frequently to see "how things were going".

2. *Valuing Your Own Work*

When I sold my work at Neiman Marcus trunk shows, I learned pricing and valuing my own work. The kind people in the jewelry department explained to me that my work was priced too low and customers would wonder "what was wrong with it" - they said my prices needed to be doubled - and they were right. Rather than pricing it based on the time it had taken me to create it and what comparable artist pieces sold for, I had been pricing my work at an "affordable" price.

3. *Know When To Say "No"*

Many years ago, a very nice woman called me and said that she had seen my work and would like to commission a few pieces; price was not really a concern and she wanted some original jewelry for business attire. The woman turned out to be the spokesperson for the NYSE and what was acceptable for her job was very muted colors. I accepted the commission and made two necklaces for her - which she loved - and which I hated every minute of making! I learned that it would have been better if I turned down the commission and directed her to a fellow lampworker who would have had no trouble coming up with beautiful beads in root beer brown and amber! The job took me forever to do - and I had no fun making the jewelry!

4. *Grow Your Business Slowly*

When I had a bit of success and felt "invincible", I was in fifteen galleries and museum stores across the country. I had a Studio Manager and a studio assistant, five days a week. We assembled jewelry and filled orders during the day from 9 to 3, and I made beads from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. for the next day's orders... everyday... with a husband and a three year old.  

When what you sell is something you make, there is a limit to how much you are capable of producing. It took about nine months for me to realize what was happening to my life and downsize.

When my business started to spin out of control, I took stock of my situation and called the gallery/store owners and told them what was going on - and I finished all the orders I had taken. I learned that if I was honest with them and fulfilled my obligations before I left; I would be welcome to return.

Also, while it is very flattering to be sought after by many stores and galleries, making commitments and following through can mean more work than you are ready for or can sustain and the stress level that accompanies overextending yourself is not worth any amount of money.

Currently I sell my beads once a year at the *To Bead True Blue* show in Tucson, AZ (Feb. 3th - 8th) and sporadically on Etsy.

My jewelry is sold through two galleries; Mariposa Gallery in Albuquerque and La Mesa Gallery of Canyon Road in Santa Fe.

I focus on large one-of-a-kind pieces and a smattering of small bracelets and earrings.

I grew up in Topeka, Kansas and received a BA in Anthropology (with an emphasis on "Semiotics in Brazilian Tribes" - Really? Really.) from the University of Kansas. After graduating, I worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. for two years. In 1992 I moved to Albuquerque, NM and worked at a disastrous job for nine months before finally turning in the CEO to the FBI for embezzlement! (Really? Really!!)

In 1996, I took a glass bead making class at Sundance Studio in Mountain View, CA. I fell completely in love with making glass beads and turned into a jewelry designer when I had to figure out something to do with all the beads I was making! After making beads for 10 years, I became frustrated with having only the option of stringing them! I took a weekend silversmithing class from my friend Kristin Deiner to figure out how to set a ring with a bead.
A few days after the class, I purchased my own soldering torch, saws, etc. and was off on a whole new adventure!

Eleanore Macnish lives in Albuquerque, NM with a great husband, Elizabeth - the greatest kid in the world, and a dog named Harriette.

Click on these links:

All the best,

Ellie Mac
glass beads > jewelry > fun

Eleanore Macnish
Glass Beadmaker, Silversmith
& Jewelry Design
Albuquerque, NM

Blog contributor Thomas Soles is the Trade Show Coordinator for Soft Flex Company. His favorite stones are Lapis and Pietersite. His favorite hobby is day dreaming. And his favorite mustache is Tom Selleck's. As you can see, he has a healthy (or possibly unhealthy) sense of humor. You can write to him at

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