BEFORE INVINCIBLE ART, THERE WAS O'NEILL GLASS ART
I started my business in 2000 and at the time I named it O’Neill Glass Art. Because O’Neill is my name and I was working with glass. Not that original but straight to the point.
I started with making stained glass windows and panels and quickly understood that if I wanted to make money to feed my glass addiction I needed to sell my work. I also needed to amp up my game and the natural progression for me was to evolve into kiln formed glass (that many called fused glass, but I never liked this term).
I had my share of success: good galleries representation, exhibitions and I even was commissioned by the Arizona Citizens for the Arts to create an award piece for the famous Arizona Governor Arts Awards.
So far so good until 2008
Then, the economic crash of 2008 happened and most of my galleries closed their doors. One of the owners recommended me to make smaller pieces and to work wholesale with crafts galleries and gift shops. I thought this was a good idea and moved in this direction.
In 2009, O'Neill Glass Art entered the world of wholesale
In 2009, I attended my first trade show in Las Vegas. I signed up before the economy crash and since I had already paid for my non-refundable booth, I went, full of hope. It was a real bust for me. The first day, I cried when I saw buyers walking by my booth, turning their head in the other direction to make sure I won't make eye contact and then lining up to place orders of cheap dichroic glass blobs with glued-on findings. The two next days I was worried and bored to death as there was no more buyers attending the show.
The owner of a gallery I was still working with at the time told me before the show “even in this economy, galleries would be crazy to not buy from you”. Well, they were. I sold a couple of larger pieces that paid for my booth fee but that's all. All my other expenses were a loss and I did not have any follow up order either.
This trade show crushed my soul
The financial lost was not the worse. The worse effect of this show is that it crushed my soul. I worked so hard to prepare this show and to make it a success that my passion for glass died with my hopes almost overnight. I knew this show was not the right venue for my work but this was not a feeling I could control even with reasoning. I felt the weight of all my heavy glass working equipment and I could not breath from the burden. I needed lightness in my life, I needed mobility, I needed freedom.
Welcome Invincible Art!
This is when I felt compelled to make chain mail jewelry with just my 2 hands and a couple pair of pliers. I still have no clue how I came up with the idea. Maybe I channeled Joan of Arc, one of my heroes?
I ordered a jump rings maker, a few books and started leaning this ancient art by myself. I loved it right way. Let's talk about a 180 degrees turn!
As rock bottom as I went, it was never an option for me to stop my business. But I now needed to change its name. A friend who knew of all I went through with the bomb trade show told me that I was invincible. Light bulb moment! This is how Invincible Art came to life. The name was not related to any media like it was with O’Neill Glass Art but it was a good fit for the chain mail at the time.
Today, Invincible Art is going strong
Today, as I make less chain mail and more metalsmith pieces, the name still works well as I see my jewelry is as a kind of armor or super weapon to boost one’s confidence.
But how do I feel about my new direction?
I would be lying if I was saying I do not miss working with glass. I could still make some pieces as a hobby, but I had to sell all my equipment. I even had some serious "what if" moments. But I also love what I am doing today. In fact, what makes me happy and feed my soul is making things. But I would not go as far as saying I'd be happy making felt hand puppets :)
I am a firm believer that nothing happens by accident and I am convinced this event was a step in my journey.