Thursday, January 26, 2017

Shop Feature! Sarah Cryer, The Indecisive Beader

Sarah Cryer, owner of Etsy shop “Sarah Cryer Beadwork” is a London-
based beadwork artist whose part-time passion for beadweaving has yielded big-time results.
A busy wife and mother of two, who also works secularly, Sarah uses her spare time to design
and create impressive geometric-shaped wearable art pieces. It is evident that her spare time,
is time well spent because she has won more than one Etsy Beadweavers challenge.
Sarah’s skill in 3D sculptural beading along with her love and excitement for beadweaving,
pushes her to produce high-quality, innovative designs. 

Whether you purchase a finished piece or a tutorial from her Etsy shop you know exactly what you are getting
because her item descriptions are thorough, her designs are precise and beautifully
photographed, and her tutorials are fully illustrated, detailed and clear.
Sarah was kind enough to do a Q&A, learn more about her work below.

Q. How long have you been beadweaving and how did you get started?

Sarah Cryer: I’ve been beadweaving for around 8 years - prior to that I was stringing and
playing with polymer clay, but then I discovered beadweaving and was hooked.

Q. What do you love about beadweaving?

Sarah Cryer: I love the variety of textures and forms I can make, the fact that I can work on a
tray on my lap (important in a busy house) and I find the act of beadweaving very therapeutic.
Most of all though I do really, really love the beads themselves - the shapes, the finishes, the
sparkle and just in the infinite, tiny variety!

Q. What moved you to become an Etsy seller and then a member of the
Etsy Beadweavers Team?

Sarah Cryer: When I first started selling it was on Folksy - a UK based handmade
marketplace. I still sell there, and do well with my finished pieces, but when I moved into
tutorials Etsy was the obvious choice with its digital download service and international reach. I
already knew about the EBWT as an author friend (Sophia Bennett) discovered you when she
was writing a young adults book about fashion and beading, and shared you on Facebook, and
I’d been watching member’s designs for a while.

Q. Which Etsy Beadweavers Team challenges have you won?

Sarah Cryer: I was joint winner of the first challenge I entered, only days after joining the team,
with my ‘Inspired by Chihuly’ Nasturtium Ring.

That was a big boost, and it’s still one of my favourite pieces - it almost beaded itself (although attempts to recreate in 11s instead of tiny 15s have since failed). Not long afterwards I won the ‘Abstract’ challenge with a large winged peyote bangle inspired by Monet’s Water Lilies  - that was more of a surprise as the piece itself was a bit of a battle and wouldn’t work the way I wanted it to - I had to challenge myself to let go and just see where it went. I’ve not had time to enter more than a few challenges since then as I’ve either been focusing on other projects or couldn’t
get pieces to work.

However earlier this year I won the Stitch and Craft Beads Butterfly Challenge Professional category with my ‘Semele’s Cuff’which was a huge honour and pleasure, and I’m pushing myself to enter their challenge again next year, and also a couple of other competitions - they
pull me out of my comfort zone, force me to work to the highest standards, and often result in
pieces suitable for tutorials which is great.

Q. You are a very busy working mom with a husband, how do you find time for

Sarah Cryer: My house is very dusty - that probably accounts for some of the time! Seriously
though, when you have young children you don’t go out much, so the evenings we previously
spent going to the ballet or the opera, or enjoying drinks or meals out are but a distant memory.
I work three days a week, with two at home with the youngest boy, and also sing so usually
have at least one evening away at rehearsals. Once the boys are in bed though I can bead on
the sofa, or work on patterns and kits, and although I don’t spend as much time as I would like
on it, and can’t really teach or do fairs, it seems like a good balance for now. My 3-day a week
job is as an IT Business Analyst for a leading UK department store, so I get lots of transferrable
digital and more importantly shop-keeping and process efficiency skills from there which help.

I’ve learned a lot over the last few years about how to streamline the business side to free up
more time, and next month my youngest will be in pre-school three hours a day, so I’m planning
to spend one three-hour chunk on pretending to be domesticated, and the other on beading or
dressmaking (my other, rarely managed love).

Q. Why do you call yourself the indecisive beader?

Sarah Cryer: When I was starting to blog I didn’t have the confidence to use my own name as
the title, so I wanted to come up with an interesting pseudonym. I’m hopeless at getting on with
a project - I can easily spend days just choosing the beads, starting, stopping, unpicking, pulling
more beads, and my husband jokes that I spend more time choosing beads than beading -
hence the name. At the moment I’m even worse than usual - I’m going through a period of
experimentation with new techniques and have a horrible desire for perfection (born of pre-
Christmas tiredness) which means that the three pieces I’m trying to do are all spending more
time having new sets of beads pulled or being completely re-worked, than they are on being

Q. How would you describe the type of jewelry you make?

Sarah Cryer: Bold but hopefully wearable, using a mix of off-loom techniques and beads.
Colour is incredibly important to me - I discovered the work of Kaffe Fassett in my teens and
have been working with bold, bonkers colours ever since - back then in patchwork, knitting and
needlepoint, and now in beads (which are even more fun as you have finish and shape as well
as colour to play with). I tend to tone that down a bit for my materials packs and finished pieces
that are for sale because not everyone shares my taste, but the pieces I make for myself do
tend to push the colour palette almost to the unwearable! I use Miyuki seeds and delicas, and
lots of Czech beads, although I’m largely resisting the shaped bead revolution for now, and I do
love crystals, although I tend to use them sparingly. My go to stitches are peyote and RAW,
plus that weird mix of netting & embellishment that so many use to build 3D structures - the
peyote is shaped, and comes from an early and continuing affinity with my friend Jean Power’s
amazing work, and the RAW and 3D work from Sabine Lippert and Marcia DeCoster - that
combination probably explains why my style is still a bit eclectic rather than focused, but I’m still
learning and enjoying the journey!

Q. What is your design process when creating/writing a tutorial?

Sarah Cryer: Only one of my current pieces was designed specifically as a tutorial, and that
was really an experiment to see if I could work in a focused way with that purpose in mind - I
managed it, but that one hasn’t sold well, and I think that is probably fair as it’s not as innovative
as my others, and I didn’t really enjoy the process. The successful tutorials such as the
Baroque Tape Measure Surround and Space Needle Case  were born
of pieces made as experiments in form, or technique, and often for competitions, where at some
point in the process or even years later I thought ‘yes, I could write this up, I think it might sell’.

As I don’t have lots of time I’m pretty strict now with what I do publish - the piece must be
individual rather than derivative, have been honed to provide the simplest technical beading
experience possible, and I need to be able to explain clearly in words and diagrams what I’ve
done. So that means at the moment that in my queue of ‘to write ups’ I’ve got several paused
because I can’t find a way to describe the 3D structure, another which is just too simple, and
another where the thread paths and order of steps needs some serious re-working before I’ll
consider publishing. So for now I’m concentrating on beading new work and hoping some of it
will end up being suitable - if it’s not, then I’ll still have some lovely beadwork at the end!

Q. What tips or advice can you share that has helped you run a successful Etsy

Sarah Cryer: Evolution not revolution - focus on the essentials at first and allow the peripherals
to evolve.
I would say the essentials are good product, very good photos to show how good your products
are, a simple look and feel, and engagement with your market. For me, a macro lense for our
SLR and a helpful patient husband sorted out the photography, to engage with customers I use
my blog and the associated Facebook page, and for good
product I have to rely on hard work and inspiration, and try to resist the temptation to list
everything I finish. Everything else - the business cards, packaging, paid marketing, etc is
pointless without those three essentials as no one will buy anything - you can evolve those as
you go along, gently trying out different options as you have sales to try them on, only then will
you understand how well you and your processes work. And I’ve probably also evolved to focus
my limited time on the things that sell - I’d love that to be finished work, but it’s not, it’s tutorials
and kits.

Q. What other ways do you market your finished pieces and tutorials?

Sarah Cryer: I mainly use my blog and Facebook page . They cover my whole beading life - so everything I’m
making, including reviews of other beaders patterns & books, failures, UFOs, sewing, and life in
general rather than just being about the commercial side, which I hope makes them more
engaging for customers and friends. I also seem to get good conversions from the Etsy shop
updates feature, and good traffic through from Pinterest (SarahBeady) where I am a devoted
pinner of gorgeous pieces from other beaders (I try and remember to sneak in the odd pin of my
stuff and it seems to work). I’m also very lucky to have made friends, both in the flesh and
digitally, with some wonderful beaders both in London and across the world, and their support
on social media in particular has been hugely instrumental in getting some of my key pieces to a
wider audience, as well as being a lovely experience. Realistically though, that following is
largely composed of beaders, so whilst it works well for tutorials and kits, I’ve still not found a
really successful method for marketing finished work - I’d be interested in ideas and tips there!

Q. Have you made use of the EBW Instagram page?

Sarah Cryer: I’m very new to Instagram as The Indecisive Beader (a matter of weeks) so I’m
still feeling my way around a bit, but you’ll see me there soon!
Sarah Cryer may be “The Indecisive Beader”, but she is also proof that “it’s not how much time
you have to bead that matters, it's how you use the time you have to bead that makes the

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