This is the final post for this series. Wrapping this up into a fine bow and putting it all behind me is the best thing to do.

I hope those that have followed along feel they know me a little better and understand why I’ve pulled back with business and mosaics in general. Regrouping, taking stock and trying to figure out what works for me is something I’ve been forced to do. I’m grateful for it. Maybe a few even learned some things too which would make it all worth it.

At the very least, those starting out in any business that requires handmade work, be aware that online custom orders are very difficult to do if you think you want to give it a try (at least the way I did it). And as a customer, remember, if you are ordering something, it isn’t easy to get inside someone else’s vision. Be patient, precise and work closely with the person making your special piece. If you are successful at it, congratulations! I do believe I will never do it again although I’ve heard the saying: “never say never”. I suppose there is always the possibility but the probability, for now anyway, is highly unlikely that I will ever offer custom work for strangers again. And that’s the last lesson I learned.

Lesson Six: Just because others offer custom orders online doesn’t mean everyone can or even should. It is okay NOT to offer them. It is okay to simply say it’s not something I want to do and mean it. YOU are in charge of your decisions both in your business and in your personal life. YOU are in charge of YOU.

I knew this and a few other lessons I mention in this series but it seems that some are harder to learn or remember when I’m in the midst of a situation.

Now, back to the end of my story.

I worked through PayPal with the father of the bride for a while, waiting to hear each time whether he would accept my counter offer which was always for less money without asking PayPal to take over. With a memo added with each offer I asked for the gazing balls back before the rest of the money was paid. I did this a few times and never got a response to my requests, only the official counter offer to my offer.

I never learned where the finished gazing balls ended up, but my guess is within the first 24 hours of seeing them and getting my first emotional email response about the rejection, they were tossed away along with my favorite scraping tool.

I had a thought one day that maybe someone found the boxes of spheres in a garbage heap and saw something of beauty in at least one of them enough to pull them out and take them home. But my guess is all were smashed in a big garbage disposal truck never to be appreciated.

The other alternative is that they were used and I paid for them to use them. Many of my online buddies felt that was more possible than anything I thought of. I don’t believe this to be true. I never got a direct answer to my last set of questions asking if they were donated, tossed away (which, by the way, I said was fine at this point … I just wanted to know), or if they were going to ship them back at some point. I have to wonder if maybe they were used and I got used along with them. If so, I’m still more angry with myself for not being honest about my limitations and limited human strength than I am of thinking they may have been part of the wedding.

When I finally got his last counter, I decided to do it. He wanted $250 back in total instead of the whole $500. I had, at that point, almost the whole amount of $250 saved in my PayPal acct from selling a few things. Most of it though was thanks in no small part to a kind stranger friend and fellow mo artist who sent me a good chunk of what I had in there telling me it was just a loan to help pay off this guy and to pay her back as soon as I could. She knew I wasn’t working, lost my savings and that I’d been going through a lot of tough financial times and she wanted to help. How’d I get so lucky?!! As for the rest I needed which by then was less than $50, I knew I could ask my daughter for a small loan and put it in the account to cover it. Besides, I was tired of it all.

What I didn’t expect was that PayPal actually took the money from my bank account, not my PayPal account and left me reeling in financial pain for quite a while due to bank fees. Luckily, the bank paid it and charged me back for what I owed instead of refusing to pay it.

What a horrible way to end a bad experience. But it’s ended and I’m still here.

I’m not over all of this yet as I’m still trying to get the financial mess that I’ve been in for almost two years behind me. It was one more thing that was becoming very hard to find a way to get taken care of. The personal stuff plus the business stuff took a toll on me. This job, plus the other junk going on at the same time, made it hard to distinguish what was important, who I was, what I wanted and how I’d get there.

I have made a lot of changes. I have learned a lot. That means I am blessed to have had the experiences. I’m thankful for them all.

And of the real upside, I see my grandson’s smiling face every morning. He still gets excited every day when he sees me. Even after months and months of us all living together. I get to hear a sweet: “HI NANA!!” come at me each and every morning. Sometimes with a running-crashing-into-me-hug. Life is so very good!

I know that failure is part of life and important in developing self worth. Failure is necessary in order to find success. How else would you know that you’re doing what is right for you if you never do some thing’s wrong? Falling down a lot and getting back up is the best thing to do in these situations. It makes you stronger, makes you confident and helps you find your bliss, your purpose, your calling if you’re real lucky.

I will admit, getting back up from this fall, this time, after all the failure and learning I have had in these past 2 years, was very difficult. I have to include the loss of integrity. Not to mention believing some things about myself that I was told by people who don’t really know me, was very hard to combat. I wasn’t what they said I was, but I was too beaten down emotionally to fight back. I started to believe it too. That took longer to shake off than most anything else I had gone through.

I’m not completely back “up” yet and I believe it will take another few months or so before I am where I want to be emotionally. But I will get there.

In truth, I have mixed emotions about not getting the gazing balls back. Part of me wanted to be able to smash them all up aggressively and to get the glass if any was left to make new things. Part of me wanted to never see them again.

Someone on Facebook said, should I get them back, to take them places and just leave them. Unexpected places like in a park. Art in unexpected places. Love it! Very nice thought and one I would consider doing but the reality is in this area if I were seen placing them anywhere I could get fined and the art wouldn’t be appreciated anyway. However, that is not necessary to even think about now because I never got them back. In this case, our county is safe from the random acts of art by gold mirrored gazing balls being placed around and about the town.

As this is the last part of this post and to end the series, I’d like to share some things I learned about writing an artist contract. But first here are the lessons, once again, from 1 through 6. I hope they help you too like they helped me:

1) Never allow your emotions into a potential job.

2) Never rush the prep work; work slowly and deliberately; share one finished product at a time.

3) When doing duplicates of a job, get final approval for each item made before starting in on the next.

4) Never ignore the little voice that tells you to slow down and rest. If your gut tells you something isn’t right … listen to it … it’s NEVER wrong.

5) Take the time to do what you must do to make the best product you can make. Even if it means walking away from it all for a while and giving yourself some rest and recoup time. If you can’t see the best finished product yourself, there is nothing wrong with taking the loss and calling it a day. In life and business, there is a time when even after doing everything that can be done, if it doesn’t “feel” right, it’s time to close the door and end the chapter. Remember if you learned something, you never fail from the experience. Sometimes walking away is the only thing you can do.

6) Just because others offer custom orders online doesn’t mean everyone can or even should. It is okay NOT to offer them. It is okay to simply say it’s not something I want to do and mean it. YOU are in charge of your decisions both in your business and in your personal life. YOU are in charge of YOU.

And because we all know we must make the lemons we get in life into lemonade, here’s the photos of the prototypes as they are now.

The triangle gazing ball is now listed on Etsy at a very reasonable price 😉 and the square one has become my focal piece every so often to help me stay focused when I meditate. I painted the grout in beautiful rainbow colors (chakras) and that blended the silver and gold mirror on it a lot better and actually gives it a lot of character. I wouldn’t be opposed to selling this one either at some point, but for now it is happy here with me.

*¨)

¸.•´¸.•*´¨) ¸.•*´¨)

(¸.•´ (¸*´¨(♥ THE END

Here’s the info on what I should have done with the contract and the last bit of lessons learned and/or hindsight moments I had that I can share about this whole ordeal.

First off, I wrote the contract myself, taking info I found online and wording it to fit my situation. I am glad I did that and will always do that should I ever write another art contract for myself. I found I didn’t need a lot of fancy words or a contract lawyer to help me. I wrote a brief description of what the job was, what was expected and when, plus a few things I felt should have been mentioned like getting 1/2 of the total amount before the job is started and making it a non-refundable deposit. Tada … a contract was made. I asked my Step-Mom to read it over to make sure the grammer was okay mostly. Once she made a few tweaks, I sent it on its way and this whole adventure began.

Interestingly and what shows how naive I really was, I didn’t take into account the rejection part too much when writing it. It just never occurred to me that she wouldn’t love them or that anyone wouldn’t love a mosaic I made if it required a contract, especially. Humbling to realize that it’s as important if not more so than anything else written in it. However, I hadn’t even begun to work on them and had no clue where this road would go. Nor did I know I would be learning so much along the way.

In the contract, I stated that if it was rejected, it should be returned. That is something we both did wrong. And get this, the customer told me that her father was a contract lawyer! Shame on us ALL. Although that comment that I didn’t want them back wasn’t in a legal document or in the contract as an addendum and only mentioned in an email, it was mentioned by me which means I broke the contract first. All legal stuff, if pursued by lawyers, would come back to that one email, I suppose, for and against the legality of it.

At the time they were rejected, I took it personally as you all know. I took it very personally. I imagine anyone would, right? Making things with your hands means it is a part of you. If it’s not liked, that means they don’t like a part of you. If I had taken a beat to think about it and let the emotional feelings go before I responded to her initial rejection email, I would probably have gotten them back.

What I should have worded a lot more carefully in my contract was this section:

“Right of Refusal: It is the intent of this contract that the Artist create artwork(s) for the Client that the Client will purchase. However, if, after the work has been completed, if the Client does not wish to purchase the item(s), the Client may refuse the created artwork. In that case, the Artist will retain the refused artwork and the non-refundable deposit, free of any claims or interests of the Client. The Client will owe no additional fees to the Artist except shipping fees when applicable. A refusal will not affect the purchase price of future created artworks. The Artist, however, does reserve the right of refusal of service to any Client who displays a history of repeated refusals.”

Somewhere in there, around the part that says “the Artist will retain the refused artwork” should have been a sentence that says no money will be returned to the Client UNTIL and not BEFORE the item(s) are returned to the Artist. At that time, the determination of amount owed to the Client will be decided by the Artist. And it should have also said that payments may be necessary from the Artist in monthly increments to the Client. That monthly amount would be determined at the time of refusal should it be $100 or more.

In this case, as everyone now knows, I was out of money completely before the job was done. I didn’t have it to return to them and I’m still trying to recoup the loss. If I had the option of paying them back a little at a time, it would have been better for me but it would have added to the time I would have to be dealing with the rejection of this job. Not so good for the psyche. Which means, to me anyway, that it all happened the way it was supposed to. I’m not sure I could have bounced back at all if I had one more payment to try to figure out how to make each month. The Universe had my back on that one, for sure.

The worst part of this, believe it or not, wasn’t losing the money even though I constantly talk about the lack of it throughout this job nor was it never seeing the gazing balls again. I discovering I had a Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI) which I moaned a lot about once it was in full swing, because of this one job too large to handle on my own. As my youngest daughter would say when she was younger and she’d hurt herself: “I am broken.” That phrase means a lot to me, physically and spiritually I was broken.

I am not ever going to recover from this injury if I’m reading things I find online correctly because it is a repetitive thing from over use. I will always re-injure it. I am, however, more or less recovered from the rejection of this job and have found a way to live with it and move on. That’s huge news!

I’m happy to report that the muse has reawakened and I am enjoying making mosaics again. As a matter of fact, I think I took the rejection rather well after the sting of the words used to describe why they were rejected stopped bothering me. I was honest and thought about it. I didn’t really disagree with them and I’d probably have rejected them too for the same reasons.

I was more afraid that I’d never have that desire again to play with mosaics once I was flat from this experience. I wanted that passion that I once had with stained glass and dish shards again. I am not 100% into them again just yet, but I am into them. Nothing was lost, in the end. I still feel excited about the colors I dream about when I’m sleeping. This is very good news for someone who thought during the fall of 2011 that the creative fun I used to have was gone forever.

I think about this daily because this kind of injury is a day-to-day thing. Cold weather, rain, not sleeping well all factor into my day ahead with pain management. That’s okay. I’m recovering nicely because I don’t like to give in or give up for very long. I’m still strong.

I’m starting over with mosaics. I’m okay with that too. I’m beginning again with an injury that makes it hard to cut glass or clean grout for very long. I have very little strength in my left hand, arm and shoulder but I have it. I think this injury has been coming for quite a while and if it hadn’t been this gazing ball order that did it, something, at some point would have. Through the years, my jobs had always been related to typing and my hobbies were always some sort of work using my hands with crafts of all kinds. Rotator cuff problems may be at fault (I’m doctoring myself). I’ve had spasms for years dropping pencils and pens or having them shoot across the room for no apparent reason; age is another factor. All of it means I pushed too much at a time when I really shouldn’t have.

Some days when I’m especially tired or in pain, I feel like I gained 10 years in 10 months. I’m still recovering from the many ordeals both personal and professional within the last few years.

My life is different now. Not always good, not always bad. Just different. If this time in my life is to be any good at all, I have to find small things to bring me joy and enjoy them to their fullest extent.

So that is the saga of the rejected gazing balls and the way I spent my summer and my fall and part of my winter too … I’m so glad I experienced it because now I know, for certain, that I cannot handle customer orders online unless I know the person first.

I had one more custom order experience after that which was the final nail on the coffin for online custom orders. It was the best/worst thing to happen on the heels of the other. It made me know that I just can’t do this anymore with strangers. It went very badly and I ended up destroying some vintage dish shards because they didn’t know what they wanted. I’m sad about that but I’m not sorry I no longer have to do custom work for strangers.

I’m thankful for it all. Truly, I am. I learned a lot. I grew and changed. I did not fail because I learned something about myself. I will ALWAYS be thankful for it all – even the horrible stuff. I always believe there’s a reason for things like this. It’s not all apparent yet, but it’s all going exactly as planned, I’ve no doubt.

Stay peaceful.

☼-EarthMotherMosaics
©2012 Cindy White, EarthMotherMosaics

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