Saturday, December 31, 2011

Here I come 2012

So, I never dreamed I'd say this, but I closed my Artfire store.  I did quite a bit of evaluation of costs vs sales and decided to try out another venue.  It was difficult to let it go, I've had it for a long time (I was a beta tester).  But, I looked at the overall picture and most of my sales are now either in person or from Face Book.  That being said I will be opening a new store in the next day.  I've found another site that specifically promotes handmade artisans and the owner does lots to promote the individual artists.  I am excited to clean out the old stock and begin my store anew!  I've added new features to my Face Book Page, such as a store that you can purchase from right on the site as well as links to my web page.

There have been a lot of changes in my personal and my professional life and I am looking forward to what is going to be happening artistically for me in 2012.  I have gained a wonderful online community of artists and some local supporters that are helping me look at my artwork and business in a whole new way.

Monday, November 14, 2011

So Here I Go With Another Blog

Yes, I have 3 blogs already, but it seems that ArtFire suggests that I maintain one here too.  Today I am going to talk about some questions I was asked by a group of non-crafty friends.

My friend Maureen is intrigued by the fact that I managed to mix the side of my brain that is all business with the side that is the artist.  I really don't know how that works!  It just always does.  I know many people who are all one or the other.  I constantly try to look at my art as my passion and make things that I love, but I also have to keep an eye on the business of craft. 

The business of craft is what pays the bills and lets me keep buying supplies and learning new techniques, so it is at times the most important part of what we do.  How much to charge? What to create? To do shows or just sell on line?  These are questions a successful business has to ask all the time.

But the artist hates this, we just wanna make what we make how we make it and be paid for it.

I have probably made stuff for my entire life.  Many gifts were made before I decided that I might be good enough to sell my jewelry designs.  I started out selling to my clients at the hair salon I worked at, which evolved into putting a display in the salon I then owned.  At that time lots of sparkly crystal stuff was popular and I often mixed my designs with purchases items to sell. 

When I had to close the salon I had to concentrate on supporting my family, and I made some things, but didn't try to make that a big part of my income.  A few years in I started to do a few small shows and got a tote to bring things into work to show off.  I can honestly say my friend Paula pushed me into doing more shows.  And to her credit (and retail experience) I did pretty good that year.  I was so lucky to have her to drag to shows to sell stuff with me.  She could sell ice to Eskimos!

Business was doing pretty good and my style had begun to evolve when I had several life crisis at one time.  My husband lost his job and about 3 months later I was in a horrible car accident.  I am lucky to be here, but my creative mojo wasn't happening for about 4 months.  I pretty much took a year off to recover and then one day I wanted to make stuff again and it wasn't a struggle.

Once again I have to thank Paula for encouraging me thru out this whole process.  She gave me a commission order for a necklace that she needed for a friend.  Here is what I made for her...

Her friend had just lost a foot to a rapidly growing cancer and she wanted to give her a symbol to remind her of her strength.

I can't tell you how many resin coated pendants I have made since then!  But I have a brain that won't stop so I evolved my work yet again with torch fired enamels.  I came across Painting with Fire by Barbara Lewis.  I decided to spend the money for the starter kit and fell in love with the method.  Here are a few things I have made with my enameled pieces

And then....this evolved to fold forming!  Since I had a torch I could easily heat the metal up and create things from them

In the necklace above, I used enamel, fold forming and yet another thing...Patina!  So do you all see where this is going?  Yup, I took a lampwork class after I had a fantastic show (I took 3rd place in fine art) and even though I never anticipated I would, now I have a kiln, oxygen concentrator, 2 (yes 2) torches and a supply of glass.  Here is a necklace with my beads on it...

So as you can see, it is a journey.

Maureen bought this necklace the other day

She asked me how did I come up with this design and I had to tell her that it just kind of comes to me.  Another friend said "so you don't do a sketch ahead of time?" And I had to say no, sometimes the pieces just speak to me.  They come together on my workspace and I have an a HA moment.  And sometimes it is an oh no moment when you try to put things together and you shake your head and say nope that doesn't work.

So that is the art side of what we do.  The business side has to say "what should I charge for this"?  I have a mentor who constantly tells me I undercharge, and I probably do.  But, in this economy I try to make sure I make a profit and make my jewelry accessible to a wide group of clients.  I almost always have some earrings in the $10 range at a show and a few show pieces that are over my magic $50 number.  The big deal pieces will draw them in, but most of the time people buy multiple of the lower priced pieces and end up spending the same amount, but feeling satisfied because they got more for the $$ they spent

I keep track of what shows were successful, and which ones I would never do again (even if the booth space were free).  I also look at the potential to grow my customer base, like the dance convention I did.  This year was ok, but next year the ladies will be waiting for me to be there and ready to buy. 

I am also evolving my displays and set up this year.  I want to have a more cohesive set up which may involve using my sewing skills to make skirts and table covers.  I am also haunting flea markets and antique markets for fabulous finds to repurpose as displays (or use in my designs)

I look to expand the number of shows I do next year as well as introduce a display at my current salon location and also to continue to evolve my skills and designs style.  No matter how long you have been making "stuff:", you are never done learning and going down new avenues of creativity!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Sari Ribbon Party Blog Hop

So in my previous post I showed off some of my pieces using sari ribbon, but I saved the best for the blog hop.  I was excited to put this piece together and made many of the components myself.  The name of my piece is Autumn Garden Bracelet.  My inspiration came from Barbara Lewis and her wonderful book, Painting With Fire- Torch Fired Enamel Jewelry.  She has a piece in it titled Harem that I borrowed the idea from...and then as usual I expanded on it in the way only I can.

First I made the lamp work "flower" bead for the center of the bracelet and enameled head pins and beads to add to it:

Then I picked out my sari ribbon, which I purchased from Barbara Lewis .  She sells everything you need to get started with torch fired enameling and some beautiful sari ribbon too!

I then used a 7 inch piece of cotton rope and covered it in a coordinating fabric and began wrapping it in all the beads and fibers.  Here are the pictures of the end result....

I hope you enjoyed seeing my piece...stop at the other blogs and enjoy and be inspired by all the creations!

Sari Ribbon Party Blog Hop

Vickie Wills

Susan Kennedy

Michelle Mach

Michelle Lee Hardy

Ruth Crawford

Hilary Frye, FryeStyle

Diana P.

Brenda Sue Lansdowne, B'sue Boutiques

Elizabeth Owens-Dwy

Connie Rios-Relyea

Jennifer Justman   

Deb Davis

Cathie Carroll

Rosemary Cowit

Georgene Lockwood

Cathy Buckley

Harry Wood

Sonya Stille

Mary Deis

Heather Goldsmith

Susan Rouleau

Terry Matusyk

Pam Chesbro

Mary Shannon Hicks

Janice Everett


Kristina Johansson, Maneki

Kris Binsfeld

Alice Craddick



Catherine Jeltes


Sharon Palac

Deb Beechy

Jean Yates

Patrice Pfeiffer

Dorcas Midkiff

Lynn Perry Bennett

Linzi Alford


Cynthia Wainscott
Marie-Noel Voyer-Cramp
B'sue Boutiques Creative Group
If you couldn't play this time, no worries.   Please come on over on Friday and cruise the blogs and see all the pretty jewelry!

Friday, October 7, 2011

So I decided to join a blog hop!  B'sue Boutique wanted all of us to show off our Sari ribbon creations.  I just recently started to use Sari ribbon in my work, but have always combined various ribbons and fabrics in my pieces.  I love the color variations in the Sari ribbon, and like that I am using something that is re-purposed instead of just thrown away.  Here are some pictures of my most recent creation, a bracelet I made using antiqued copper chain, Sari ribbon, lampwork beads (I just made), and some purchased blue beads.  I love the way it looks.

Here are two necklaces I made with Sari ribbon too...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Decisions Decisions

Sooooo, after the success of Art In The Park I decided to treat myself to a lamp work class.  I had visited  Brazee Street Studios  in Oakley the day before and as luck had it they had a two day beginner class starting on Monday.  Signing up was easy and I did it online on Sunday.  What was nice was that I got two emails confirming my registration and letting me know what to wear for safety.

I arrived ready to learn and excited.  The instructor is Sandy Gross, director, owner, etc etc etc...There were five of us there and we were eager to learn.  Because of my enamel work I wasn't afraid of the torch, it just took a bit to have the mandrel in my left hand and the glass rod in my right hand.  We did some practice beads to try to get the hang of it...they are kind of pitiful looking.  Then we jumped in and tried some dots on beads.  I felt like I was getting the hang of it.  The concentration in that room was thick.  We also learned to pull our own stringers (really skinny glass sticks you use to decorate beads with) and how to get the bead in the kiln before it got too cold.

Here are some pictures of us:

I came home exhausted and excited.  Day two was even better.  I felt more in control of the glass.  I made fewer beads, but felt more confident in what I accomplished.  The reveal was the next day after all the annealing was done and here are my beads.

I'm pretty proud of what I accomplished in two days.  And I want to do more!!!! I can see how the beads would compliment the enamel work I have been doing and how the enamel work will compliment the beads.  So I have begun the process of buying lampwork tools and equipment.  The options are mind boggling!  I ordered a Chili Pepper Kiln and it should be here this week.  I can use my current small torch to get started, but have already got it narrowed down to two options for a bigger set up.  Terry also has an idea for an area in the basement for my studio and I am going to work on it a bit at a time.  The creative opportunities are endless.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Art In The Park

So yesterday was my first experience at Art In The Park in Bellevue Kentucky.  This was the tenth year for the show and there were 73 artists there.  Thanks to Jodi Robinson for her encouragement to enter.  There were a lot of jewelry booths.  Some were great and some were ok.  Apparently I was one of the great ones....because I won third place in the fine art division.

 I was the woman with the enameled jewelry that the judges kept talking about.  I was consistently the busiest booth in the entire show and at times there were people waiting to get into my booth.  And...people were not only telling my how much they liked my jewelry they were taking it home!  I gained a whole new group of fans.

Here are some pictures of my booth

I love selling at these shows when someone picks up a piece and says "I have to have this!"  And I heard that a lot yesterday.  Here are some pictures of the things I had at the show.

Much of this did not make the trip back to my house!  I want to thank Barbara Lewis of Painting with Fire for inspiring me to make the enameled and fold formed pieces.  Now to get ready for my next show in October ...Art off Pike!  Can't wait to see how that goes.....

Monday, August 8, 2011

All Fired UP!

So as you know from my last post I have jumped off the cliff and decided to add to my tools and techniques.  I got my Painting with Fire kit and my patina kit from Miss Fickle Media.  I set up my hot shop and started to attempt to create enameled pieces.  I burned up a bead completely! And pennies melt if they are made after 1982.  I also discovered a great group of artists on the Painting with Fire Ning.  They also have weekly chats and everyone will help you to learn this technique.

So in my search for tutorials I also came across some for fold forming metal.  What the heck is that you say...well it is a technique where you heat metal and fold it to form various designs and shapes.  You'll see what I've come up with in a minute or so.

So here I am at mid life with 2 torches, metal, enamels and various tools learning a new (to me) art form.  I started small by using the items Barbara sent in my kit for some practice.

Now this is the successful I said I burned some stuff up.  Oh and when you got to Tractor Supply in a sundress and strappy sandals they look at you funny.  But they have 18 gauge copper wire and welding supplies and mapp gas...and they are like 2 minutes from my house.

Some things bombed, but enough came out pretty good that I started to use them in jewelry.  Here are pictures of what I've been creating.

My first fold formed leaf on and enamel and patina drop

I combined the enameled washer with my fold formed leaf and an enameled head pin

This was a gift for my stepdaughter.  The rings are patinaed and stamped with her kids names

Abstract flowers and another patinaed and enameled piece
fold formed lily with enameled stamens

Enamel and Patina on hand forged flowers

another fold formed lily

enameled bracelet

Love this bead cap
Fold formed leaf, patina enameled stamen
Now in the middle of this I am also doing resin work and creating other pieces too.  So I am busy busy busy.