Ask Bri: Tacoma, holiday shopping, flamekeeping, using the word “queer” & more!

Heya, friends! I have so much work to do to get ready for our upcoming move, but I’ve been feeling too unwell to work on jewelry or do any physical work tonight, so I thought I’d answer some of the fantastic questions that have been asked of me recently. Thanks so much to everyone who took advantage of the extra entry option with my recent giveaways and asked some great, thoughtful questions! So, without further ado, let’s get to the 13 I’ve chosen to answer this time around.

How close are you guys to your move to Washington?

We’re almost there! We’ll be leaving Chattanooga on the 13th and flying into Seattle on the 15th. As mentioned here, we are incredibly excited… And we’ve got a lot of work to do in the next week or so! Click through to read the full Facebook post and snag a coupon good for 25% off all regularly-priced jewelry in my shop, now through the 15th.

Will you be able to have a garden when you move to Tacoma?

We’ll be renting rooms in other people’s homes for at least the first six weeks we’re there, and we have no idea yet what our longer-term home will be like. We’d love to end up renting a house, but apartments seem more plentiful in our budget, so we may not have much space. We also deal with a lot of fatigue and are pretty busy with my business (which I hope to be expanding in lots of exciting ways once we settle), our spiritual work, and just taking care of ourselves and one another, so we may not have the energy for something like this. We also have no idea whether we’d be any good at it, as we’ve both lived primarily in cities and haven’t had a lot of opportunity to find out whether we have green thumbs.

That said, we would absolutely love the opportunity to grow some herbs and maybe even food for ourselves, even if it’s just a window box or small container garden to start.

How can I view all of your work and order for the holidays? Also, what is your cutoff for custom orders for the holidays?

You can check my older posts here on the blog or poke around in my albums on Facebook to see my past work. Everything currently available for sale is listed in my shop, and I plan to be listing lots of new pieces between now and the holidays.

Unfortunately, because of all of the chaos surrounding various aspects of making our cross-country move, I will not be taking new custom orders until 2015, with the possible exception of a range of semi-customizable holiday baubles.

Where will we be able to find your work when you move to the Seattle area? And for those of us who live nearby, will we be able to connect with you?

I am sincerely hoping to have a solid real-world presence for Baubles & Blessings once we settle! I’m already looking into licensing so that I’ll be able to sell on the street in downtown Tacoma during the dry season, and checking out potential opportunities for displaying some of my wares at local shops. I’m most likely going to have some pieces included in a friend’s art show in Seattle in the spring. My first scheduled event will be at the Gritty City Gift Fair in Tacoma on Small Business Saturday, November 29th. Keep an eye on my blog and/or Facebook for updates! As soon as we recover from traveling, I’m planning on renting a PO box so that I’ll have an address I don’t mind being public knowledge, which means that I’ll finally be able to set up a real email newsletter — the weekly email will be another great way for people to stay caught up on what I’m doing and where I’ll be!

What is your favorite item to make?

For multiple reasons, I really love making necklaces. They take long enough to put together that I have enough time to really get lost in the piece, which I adore. I also feel that there is something very special about the stones and talismans that are chosen to hang close to someone’s heart. I have also recently started really digging working on circlets — they afford me the same luxury of having time to get lost in the work, which creates some very powerful pieces, and also sit in a precious position where they have the opportunity to help make a lot of magic and beauty happen.

Where do you find your unique beads?

After having a lot of people basically ask me how to copy my work, which never feels good, I have decided to decline to answer this question. I’ve put a lot of time and energy into finding the supplies and vendors that work for me, and if you put the effort in, I am certain that you’ll find the results that work for you as well!

How can someone get started with tending Brighid’s Flame?

I have answered a version of this question here. 🙂 We would also absolutely love to start our own flamekeeping group, but it will be a while before we are settled enough to have the time and energy to make ourselves accountable to that many other human beings in such a profound way on a consistent basis, and we want to make sure that we do it right if we’re going to do it at all.

Have you ever felt drawn to make a piece and then just KNOW it was meant for yourself rather than to sell?

I am occasionally drawn to pieces that I’ve made which have exceptionally lovely or powerful energy. I’d say that these pieces probably end up calling to me and remaining in my possession about 25% of the time. When I’m unsure whether the piece is meant to stay with me, I will sometimes set a deadline and end up keeping it if it hasn’t called strongly enough to anyone else to be purchased by that deadline. Other times, I know instantly that I just can’t bear — and am not meant — to list a piece for sale.

How do we order if we have a credit card but no PayPal account?

You actually do not need a PayPal account in order to complete checkout via PayPal in my shop! Just follow the checkout steps without logging in, and please feel free to comment on this post, shoot me an email or send a PM on Facebook if you get stuck or have any other questions.

When speaking of yourself, you refer to a “queer woman”. I was told and have always believed that the word “queer” was more of a slur and it should not be used when describing someone. Why do you refer to yourself in this way, rather than using “LGBT” or a similar term?

This is definitely a bit of a tricky topic, because it depends a lot on who you ask and how you mean it when you say it. For me, as a queer woman in my mid-30’s, it’s not an overly politicized word choice. I grew up in and around Boston in the 90’s, and reclaimed terms formerly used exclusively by oppressors as slurs — like “fag”, “queer” and “dyke” — were being used by many folks who were tired of being afraid, coming out of closets and creating firm boundaries. This was our home, these were now our words, and we were not going to allow hatemongers to use them to intimidate and hurt us. It certainly didn’t start with my generation, though — the true radicals and pioneers came in the Stonewall era.

Back to your question, to me, the word “queer” is a little different than the other terms mentioned. Most of them are considered by many members of the GLBTQ community to be words that are okay for those within the community to use, but off-limits for people who are not part of the community. Racial slurs are actually a great parallel; when it comes to reclaimed words that were formerly solely used by oppressors, some people in various ethnic communities feel that it is okay to use those words within their community, that it removes the word’s power. Other members of those communities find the terms terribly offensive, regardless of whose mouths they’re coming out of. The opinions of people who are not part of the communities in question are generally irrelevant. (Just to be clear, I would like to point out that I am drawing a parallel to word usage that some people may find a bit easier to understand. I am not, by any means, trying to say that I can speak for people of color or understand the oppression that they face, with my perspective being that of a white woman.) Many controversial terms referring to folks in the GLBTQ community work the same way, and many people choose to self-identify as queer these days.

I feel like the term “queer” is a good fit for me personally because I am a woman primarily attracted to female-bodied people, but I am not exclusively attracted to people who identify as female. My spouse, who I’ve been with for 8 years, is a transman. For me, calling myself a lesbian would be awkward and kind of disrespectful to my amazing hubby. I’m definitely not straight, and calling myself bisexual doesn’t feel right either. To me, “queer” indicates that I am part of this community that is — to be idealistic for a moment — accepting of what falls outside of long-held societal “norms” and embraces diversity. I get that “LGBT” and similar terms feel more accurate and inclusive for other people, but “queer” is just what feels right to me. And even though I’m getting older, my hair is graying and I’ve been too sick to be much of an activist for most of the time that I’ve known my hubby, embracing my flower child hippie side more and more, the radical activism and punk rock that I came into adulthood surrounded by will always hold a piece of my heart in a chokehold. So I think I’ll always have a bit of a tendency to lovingly embrace those strong, controversial words that get people talking and connecting like we are here, with this question — as long as I have a right to claim them. 🙂

What is the weirdest request you ever got for a custom piece?

I’ve actually answered this question in a previous Q&A post; click here to read my answer.

If you could go anywhere in the world and learn a new craft, where would you go and what would you learn?

My first thought on seeing this question was Ireland, without hesitation or doubt. After a moment’s reflection, I think that I would like to find one of Brighid’s people from whom I could learn a wee bit about metalsmithing. I would love to be able to make my own precious metal and copper pendants and beads, and perhaps completely forged items as well!

Why did you choose the Seattle area instead of Oregon or California?

The progressive parts of California are so expensive that they ruled themselves out of our search pretty quickly. We vacillated between Oregon and Washington for a short while, eventually choosing Seattle because a good friend is located in the area… We finally settled on Tacoma because the LGBT and artsy communities in Tacoma seem a little more down to earth and potentially friendlier to newcomers than their counterparts in Seattle, and the cost of living is also more reasonable.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. onlyfragments
    Nov 04, 2014 @ 10:26:21

    Tacoma is a great city. I hope you like it here! 🙂

    Like

    Reply

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