Think Art Loud

Inspiring, Encouraging, and Promoting the Handmade Arts and Artists

Archive for January, 2014

For many crafters/artisans repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) are a very real concern. If you do any motion repeatedly for a long period of time (be it knitting, crocheting, jewelry work, or a myriad of other things) you are at risk of causing serious, long-lasting damage to your body. Carpel tunnel, tendinitis, pinched nerves, these are just a few of the possible injuries, and believe me, you don’t want any of these. I know it’s easy to get caught up in what we are doing that we often forget to take breaks, but it’s something that we need to get into the habit of doing. My sister has severe tendinitis in both her wrists. It’s so severe that on her bad days she has difficulty holding just about anything because of the pain. What caused this? Well, largely, it’s due to the long hours she used to spend crocheting and cross-stitching without taking any breaks. If when crafting, you find that some part of you is hurting (be it your hands, wrists, shoulders, or any other part of you) then you need to take a break. Don’t ignore the signs your body is trying to give you to say that some part of it is being overworked. But you’re in the middle of a project and just trying to finish this one last thing?! Doesn’t matter, your project is not going anywhere, stop and take a 10-15 minute break and then come back and finish it. If you don’t, you risk giving yourself a repetitive strain injury and making it very difficult (if not impossible) to continue your crafting. I love to make chainmaille, it’s one of my favorite metalworking techniques, but chainmaille can be rough on the wrists and elbow joints, if you make your own rings (and I do) so I have to be careful and do what I can to stay-off carpel tunnel and take whatever breaks my arms tell me they need. Is it easy to get into the habit of taking a break when your attention is all-consumed by whatever it is you are working on? No, but it’s certainly easier than dealing with repetitive strain injuries. So do yourself a favour, when you feel yourself starting to hurt, take that break. You project will be waiting for you when you come back, and you may be able to prolong your crafting life.

If you’ve never seen the polymer clay creations of Pook Designz you really should!

The artist behind Pook Designz is Amanda Gwynne-Farrish. She has been crafting with polymer clay for over 20 years! Her pieces range from sculptural-jewelry to figurines to cake toppers.

Polymer clay dragon cake topper/figurine handmade by Pook Designz

Each piece is lovingly sculpted from polymer clay and shows great imagination. They are cute and ever so quirky it’s hard not to fall in love with them!

Ploymer clay frog earring and brooch set handmade by Pook Designz

In addition to her sculptural work, Pook Desginz now has a new line of more modern, abstract designs. With this new line, no one piece is exactly alike, so you know that what you are getting is indeed a one-of-a-kind.

Polymer clay artisan abstract pendant handmade by Pook Desginz

And, if you can’t find quite what you’re looking for, Pook Designz offers you the option of custom ordering! Just let her know what you need and she’d be happy create a piece that’s just right for you!

Her’s where you can find her:

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Fun, funky, and oh so whimsical, drop by the Etsy store of Dramatique Designs and take a look at her upcycled clothing and accessories!

Handmade patchwork Jersey tank dress  (M/L fits sizes 6-14) - by Dramatique Designs
Dramatique Designs is based in Portland, Oregon and owned/operated by artist Erin Bass. What started it all was when she was given a sewing machine for Christmas one year, it was love at first stitch! She opened her Etsy store in May of 2010.

Handmade pink Indian print Jersey knit arm warmers (large) - fingerless gloves - by Dramatique Designs

Erin’s store offers many different kinds of products. She sells fingerless gloves (like the one shown above; some of which are made from upcycled sweaters), headbands, dresses, tote bags, and more!

If you are looking for one-of-a-kind clothing or accessories, Dramatique Designs is definitely a store you should check out!

Here are her links!

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1,000 Steampunk Creations by Dr. Grymm

 

If you enjoy Steampunk and creating repurposed artwork, this is a book that you really should add to your reference library (it’s certainly on my reference library wishlist!).  I’ve looked at a lot of books about Steampunk art and this is without a doubt my favorite.  It spans all kinds of artwork from the traditional arts of painting, drawing, sculpture, etc. to fashion (both everyday Steampunk and more theatrical), jewelry, and accessories, as well as, showing a Steampunk spin on home decor. There really doesn’t seem to be any category of the visual arts left out. It’s a great conceptual inspiration book when pondering the unusual reuse objects and bits-and-bobs that might otherwise just get tossed out. Just remember, as with any time when you get inspiration from another artist, be inspired by their work but do not copy!

Liberty Style Celtic Revival chainmaille necklace/earrings set by Handmaden Designs LLC

I love this set. It’s made from sterling silver and enameled copper and features Chrysocolla beads.  When making this set I was inspired by the Archibald Knox designs created for Liberty & Co. during the late 1890s through the late 1910s., particularly, his Celtic Revival designs. Every link in this set has been coiled and cut by hand.  The weaves featured are various forms of Celtic Visions based chainmaille units.

The necklace itself measures at 18 inches long with the centerpiece extending downwards 3 inches.  The earrings are 2.25 inches.

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If you sell your artwork or are thinking about selling it, pricing is likely something that you have (or will) struggle with (don’t worry, most everyone does!). Knowing how to price your work cam be a major headache. I’ve struggled with pricing for years, and, while I’d like to say I understand it perfectly now I can’t, but I can say that it does get easier and that I understand it a lot better than I used to.

If you’ve ever looked at a book or website for information on how to price your work, then no doubt you’ve seen all the pricing formulas out there. They’re all some form of materials + hourly wage x markup. Sometimes the emphasis may be on marking the materials way up and then adding in the cost of your time (all of which often gets marked up yet again for the wholesale or retail price). And sometimes the emphasis is more on the value of the time put into the piece. There are many, many different pricing methods but they all involve the value of the time put into the piece and the actual material cost.

Something worth noting is that most all the time, we understand that we need to make back our material costs, but we often neglect to properly compensate for our time. This begs the question that I’ve seen asked over and over on various forums: how much should I charge for my time. Well, there’s really no easy answer to that. Some will tell you that you need to make at least minimum wage. And they’re right, you should NOT be making any less than minimum wage, however, if this is to be your living, you need to be making well above minimum wage.

When it comes to determining a wage per hour, a common mistake that is made is to just pick an hourly wage that sounds good to you. This is a huge mistake and will most often just set you up to fail because it does not account for what you need to make an hour to actually make your business work.  Like many, I started off making this mistake. I thought $10 an hour sounded like a great wage to make, and, in an area where most of the jobs are not much above minimum wage ($7.40 an hour here in Michigan), it was more than a lot of jobs around.  But I didn’t understand then what I do know.  It wasn’t until joining Ganoksin (an online gem and jewelry community) and reading about this very issue there that I saw it explained in such a way that it made perfect sense.

The way it was explained was that we often make the mistake of deciding what we would like to make an hour instead of doing the math to find out what we need to make an hour. To find our what your hourly wage needs to be, you have to add up all of what your expenses are.  What is your cost of living? Your cost of doing business? Taxes? Etc. To know how much you need to charge an hour, you need to know you much you spend yearly.  After you’ve found out what you cost of living  and cost of doing business is add them together this is your (estimated) yearly expenditure.  But you’re not done yet, it is often said to estimate at least 30% of your income will go to income tax so need to factor this in also.  This all just gives you your break-even point, you need to make above this so that 1) you have a profit that can be reinvested back into your business, and 2) you have extra left over that can go into your personal savings to cover unexpected expenditures, fun personal expenditures, etc.  So factor in an additional percentage to get what you need to be making in a year.  Now that you know what you need to make in a year, you can start working backwards to figure out what you need to make in an hour.  When you are self-employed as an artist, you likely will not be working the ‘normal’ 40-hour week that most everyone else works.  On average, an artist will only spend between 20-25 hours a week creating their art, the rest of the time is generally spent taking care of other aspects of the business (marking, promoting, advertising, paper-work, photographing, attending shows, etc.) but the only time that actually makes you money is the time you spend creating each piece.  Find out how many hours on average you spend each week creating your artwork and use this to calculate how many hours you spend in a year creating salable product.  When you have that number you are ready to calculate what your target wage per hour should be, all you need to do now is divide the number you got when you determined how much you need to earn in a year by how many hours you spend creating and you will have your target wage per hour.

I know it sounds complicated, but knowing this information is invaluable when it comes to knowing how well your business is actually doing.  It will save you from a lot of needless headache and heartache later on if you understand how much you actually need to be making in order to have a successful business of selling your artwork and not have to always rely on a secondary source of income.

I hope you find this blog post to be helpful (and understandable) to you and I wish you all the best in going forward and putting that price on your art!

I love books, but not just the books that you read, I have a weakness for journals, notebooks, and sketchbooks (just ask my family!). While you could go out and get any boring old notebook, why not get a hand-crafted, artisan made one instead? Notebooks are extremely useful objects to have, and with an artisan made one they can also be beautiful! Just check out the handmade books by Blue Highways!

Night Rain Glow handmade journal by Blue Highways

All her journals are hand sewn and come with slipcases to ensure the journals are well protected. The journals work great for most any dry media (pencils, coloured pencils, pstels, markers, charcoal, etc.)

A Little Rusty handboud book by Blue Highways

Blue Highways works in limited editions of only 3 per fabric cover, and even then each of those three will have something (perhaps a different paper, a different binding, or even both), that distinguishes it from the others so they are not all the same. That fabric design is then retired, and new ones take its place.

You can find both lined and unlined handbound books in Blue Highways online stores. There are also miniature journals, and journals specifically for watercolours, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for already listed in her store Blue Highways is happy to provide the option of custom ordering!

You can find her work here:

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It’s Wearable Wednesday! Please allow me to introduce you to the beautiful seaglass jewelry of MakinTheBestOfIt. The artist behind MakinTheBestOfIt is Kimberly Kitchen. MakinTheBestOfIt is based in Point Pleasant, New Jersey and is the counterpart to Chainmaille by MBOI which is headed up by her husband Andrew Kitchen.

She and her husband have a bit of a craft obsession.  Between the two of them there is: seaglass jewelry, chainmaille jewelry , glass painting,  mixed media/altered art, and a handmade support community that’s growing into a bit of an empire! They currently run: Handmade Artists, It’s Better Handmade, and Promote Handmade.

Falling Leaves Sea Glass necklace by MakinTheBestOfIt

Every piece is carefully handmade with a lot of time and love poured into each piece. MakinTheBestOfIt creates stunning sterling silver and sea glass jewelry. All her pieces are one-of-a-kind. Not only is her jewelry entirely handmade, but she has also collected all the sea glass herself! In fact, she began making seaglass jewelry out of an addiction to seaglass collecting.  She had jars of the stuff all over the house and one day decided it was time to put them to use. And voilà! The seaglass jewelry line of MakinTheBestOfIt was born!

Rings of Glass sea glass necklace by MakinTheBestOfIt

Be sure to check out her store as MakinTheBestOfIt does more than just jewelry!

MakinTheBestOfIt links:

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I’d like to introduce you to the beautiful, handmade mosaics of Monika from Myeuropeantouch!

As I mentioned in the about page and the ‘grand opening’ blog announcement, Tuesday’s theme posts are all about recycled, upcycled, and repurposed art. This Tuesday, I thought I’d blog about a friend of mine from the Handmade Artists’ Forum who (among other things) repurposes bone china to create some gorgeous mosaics.

Mosaic artwork by Monika of Myeuropeantouch

Monika creates all sorts of beautiful mosaics using pieces of stained glass, bone china (both vintage and new) that is all carefully hand-cut, and a myriad of other pleasing decorations. She’s embellished pieces of furniture (as can be seen in the above image) giving them new beauty.

Mosaic box by Monika of Myeuropeantouch

Mosaic Treasure Box by Monika of Myeuropeantouch

Mosaic pedestal cake plate by Monika of Myeuropeantouch

Myeuropeantouch has created beautifully mosaic-ed boxes, cake plates, tissue holders, and much more.

Here are the links for Myeuropeantouch. I highly recommend you drop by!

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Silent Witness painting by Laura Hepworth

“Silent Witness” by Laura Hepworth; 2009

This has to be one of my favorite paintings that I’ve done. I painted it as my final project in Painting II. “Silent Witness” is a 30×40 inch, acrylic on canvas painting. I made the image in Photoshop combing a portrait I’d taken that same semester in my Photography I class with a Hubble telescope image of the Eagle Nebula. It was soooooo much fun to paint! I loved all the washes I had to do on this painting. I literally had pools of standing water (with just a hint of paint) on the canvas. Usually, acrylic paint drys very quickly, but at times I had so much water on the canvas that even after my next three-hour class (we were allowed to leave our paintings on the floor of the classroom and come back to work on them later as we were the only class using that room) and the paint was still water pools on the canvas!

I really love how this painting turned out. “Silent Witness” is now in the permanent collection of Delta College (the college I attended for my AFA).

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