Think Art Loud

Inspiring, Encouraging, and Promoting the Handmade Arts and Artists

Archive for February, 2014

Green and turquoise felted scarf - Kentucky Blue Fiber

Kentucky Blue Fiber is owned by fiber artist Annette Browning. Annette began her business shortly after purchasing some alpacas and finding that breeding/selling them was just not for her. They had become her friends, and she just could not not sell her friends. But, since, in her own words, she came from “a long line of knitters and crocheters,” her original business venture would not be in vain as she instead took the jump to become a fiber artist.

Nuno felted shawl wrap - Kentucky Blue Fiber

Annette shawls, scarves, and wraps are truly beautiful and it is clear that a lot of time (and love!) have gone into them! Not only does she do all the knitting, crocheting, and felting, but remember those alpacas she bought? That’s right, Kentucky Blue Fiber also spins and dyes their own yarn.

Hand dyed lamb wool locks - Kentucky Blue Fiber

Kentucky Blue Fiber offers more than just handmade creations using their handmade yarn, but they also offer for sale the yarn itself so that other fiber artists/crafters can enjoy it. In addition to the already made up yarn, the raw materials are also available for purchase. You can find both dyed and natural wool locks just waiting to be spun into beautiful yarn.

You can visit Kentucky Blue Fiber at the following links!:

Website
Blog
Store
Facebook

Alright all you want-to-be Vikings, Rennies, SCA, and historical reenactors, here’s an artist feature that should be right up your alley! The (gorgeous) leatherwork of The Happy Viking.

Leather pouch for re-enactment - The Happy Viking

The Happy Viking is based in Maleny, Australia and is owned by leather artist and Medieval enthusiast, Elizabeth Sek. Maleny has accomplished what many artisans would love to achieve: not a hobby or job, but a way of life. Her leatherwork business is fueled by her creativity and a passion for the Medieval Age. She is so passionate for what she does that it does not feel like ‘work’ (a fear that many have when first starting out: that if they make a ‘business’ of their art/craft that they will lose the joy they get from it) but instead makes her feel alive.

Leather vambraces - The Happy Viking

The Happy Viking offers an array of work. There are many different styles of scrips, instrument straps, belts, leather pendants, drinking horns, and a whole lot more. While the primary inspiration behind The Happy Viking is the Viking, Celtic, and Medieval Age, Elizabeth Sek has not limited herself to just these periods. She also welcomes custom orders so if you don’t find just want you’re looking for, she’d be happy to create it for you!

Here’s where you can find her!

Store
Facebook

I don’t know about you, but I love Steampunk jewellery. It’s so imaginative and fun. And the jewellery by Steelhip Design is no exception.

Glow in the dark Steampunk necklace - Steelhip Design

The artist behind Steelhip Design is Michelle Murray from Perth, Australia. Why did she choose the name “Steelhip Design”? At a very young age, Michelle was diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis and has since had both hips and knees replaced and her right wrist completely fused. But, while it would have been easy to let all this depress her, Michille has not let her physical struggles define her or hold her back. Instead, she feels it has helped to make her a better artist and person. And, wow, what an artist!

Steampunk flying mechanical heart - Steelhip Design

Steelhip Design creates some of the most unique pieces of Steampunk jewellery you are likely to ever find! Her pieces are art assemblage jewellery made with a wide range of materials. From copper, brass, and steel to rubber, wood, strange mechanical parts, clock/watch parts, and many other unusual materials you wouldn’t typically think of for jewellery. Yet she always makes it all come together beautifully. While she has always had a love for creativity, Michelle only recently began selling her work. She opened her shop on Etsy in 2011. On average, she creates 15-20 pieces of jewelry and 2-3 sculptures a month and dedicated to making sure that all her pieces are of the highest quality. Her signature design is the flying mechanical heart shown above.

Antique clock part and optical lens necklace - Steelhip Design

If you’d like to see more from Steelhip Design, here’s where you can find her!

Etsy
Facebook
(Temporary) Website
Tumblr

Chainmaille hornet sculpture - Handmaden Designs LLC

Believe it or not, this chainmaille hornet actually started off life as the beginnings of a bracelet project. It is a great example of what can happen when a mailler gets bored with what they are making and starts playing with their project. And, if you’ve ever held a piece of dragonscale, you know how irresistible it is to play with it. The way the weave feels and moves, you just can’t help it!

Anyway, that’s how the chainmaille hornet came about. I was originally working on a diamond patterned Dragonscale bracelet that I was going to edge with Half Persian 4in1, but I got a little bit bored (Dragonscale is not the fastest weave to make!) and got distracted. I kept playing with how flexible the weave sections were and noticed that if I curled the edges upwards with some of the sections and the other sections downwards that it looked rather like a hornets body. So, of course, I was now thoroughly distracted from my original project and curious as to whether I could successfully turn that would-have-been bracelet into a chainmaille hornet instead and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out!!

I’m now planning on taking this project a step further. Someday, I want to make many more of these chainmaille hornets only smaller (about life-size or just a little bigger) and possibly using coloured wire so they look as real as possible. I am also planning on making a life-size hornet’s nest and these little buggers are going to be attached to and around it. However, this is a long-term plan as the wire amount it will require is pretty substantial.

In the mean time, I find myself still needing a name for my original chainmaille hornet. Suggestions anyone?

Pretty much every time I get talking with someone about my jewelry business, it’s not long before I get asked if I have an Etsy store. The answer is no. Well, technically, yes I do; in fact I actually have three different Etsy stores, however, every one of them is as barren as the Mojave Desert. Why? Because Etsy has problems. Etsy started off as a great site providing a much needed service for artists who wanted to sell online but were unable to create/run their own website. Unfortunately, Etsy has run into some serious problems and is no longer what it once was.

The first problem with Etsy, is that the site has grown to be too large. There are so many sellers there that, unless you are a master at marketing, promoting, and advertizing (or already have a large following that knows to find you there), you get lost in the shear number of sellers. Now with any store you set up, no matter what site it is on, you are always going to have to do a lot of marketing, promoting, and advertizing to really get it to take off; however, this is made monumentally more difficult when that site is the size of Etsy. But as difficult as the size of Etsy is to overcome, it can be done and this is not the biggest problem with Etsy.

The biggest problem that sellers on Etsy are facing is that Etsy has abandoned their original stand on handmade. Etsy is being flooded with manufactured items and resellers of other people’s handmade work. Now, this doesn’t come as a shock, Etsy’s been having issues with manufactured products for years, however, instead of standing firm, Etsy has caved. Recently, they decided to allow sellers to farm their designs out to manufacturing plants. They called it being “handmade in spirit.” That although the ‘artist’ didn’t make what they are selling, they designed it and so its essence is still handmade. I’m sorry, but when it comes to handmade, it is not the thought that counts.

Because of this, many sellers are leaving Etsy, and, eventually, with them will go the buyers. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everyone should just abandon ship. There are still those on Etsy that are doing very well and there likely always will be. Unfortunately, this is not the norm, and it’s not likely to get any better. As more artists leave Etsy, more manufacturing will take their place, and those buyers that went there looking for handmade will leave also.

For those that are reading this and are still doing well on Etsy, that’s great, but keep a close watch. Don’t jump ship at the first sign of trouble with your store, but don’t wait until the ship’s underwater before you decide it’s time to bail. I hope you won’t need it, but have an exit strategy ready just in case. And to those that are new to online selling and looking for where to set up shop, before you buy your ticket for the Etsy ship be sure it’s going in the same direction you want to go. While Etsy may be the best known option for selling handmade work, it does not mean it is the best option. There are a lot of other options out there now (Zibbet, Handmade Artists, Indiemade, just to name a few). Also, Etsy has a lot of fees and they add up quickly, so, before you start racking up a bunch of fees, you might want to do some research into the other options that are out there to be sure this is where you want to be.

Happy hunting and I hope you find where you fit best! Be it on or off of Etsy!

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Artichoke Tones - Design Seeds

Looking for colour inspiration? If you’re like me, you love to use colour in your artwork. Colour can really bring a design to life and each colour combination can evoke a different reaction from your audience. But sometimes, it can be difficult to come up with just the right colour combination, and you find you need a little bit of colour inspiration help. Let me introduce you to a site you may, or may not, have heard of: Design Seeds.

Nature Brights - Design Seeds

If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve likely seen a ton of pins that look rather like the picture above (in fact, you may have even seen this one!). Many of those pins came from Design Seeds’ website. Design Seeds are a type of colour journal; they are based on the concept of design notebook sketches that any artist/designer may make when planning out a new project only modernized. I love Design Seeds. I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to colour inspiration and most of the pins come from Design Seeds.

I love looking at Design Seeds for colour inspiration, not just becasue they show such gorgeous colours, but because of how they show colours. They first give you an image and then they break that image down for you to show you what colours are behind it. This can be really helpful when it comes to planning colour combos because you can get a better idea of how they look together. Plus, often times you find colour combinations you might not have though of otherwise but Design Seeds has given you proof that those colours really can look great together.

So, whether you struggle with how best to combine colours or just need some fresh ideas, give Design Seeds a look and see if they can’t help get your creative mind working again!

Black/Red Glass and Chainmaille Catepillar Bracelet - Kat Wisniewski of Elemental Art Jewelry

I would like to introduce you to one of my fellow chainmaille artists, Kat Wisniewski of Elemental Art Jewelry. Kat Wisniewski founded Elemental Art Jewelry in 2005 and is based in Chicago, Illinois. Elemental Art Jewelry focuses on the fusion of chainmaille and glass to create beautiful, unique, and fashionable jewelry.

Decadent Confection necklace - Kat Wisniewski of Elemental Art Jewelry

Kat Wisniewski brings into her designs a love of geometry/symmetry, architecture, colour, and texture. Elemental Art Jewelry is foremost in the jewelry design genre of, as she calls it, “glass-chainmaille.” Along with the glass beads, she uses sterling silver, copper, and aluminum to create her designs.

Celtic Diamond pendant - Kat Wisniewski of Elemental Art Jewelry

Kat Wisniewski is also a member of The Artisan Group and recently participated in the 2014 GBK Golden Globes Celebrity Gift Lounge. Her Celtic Diamond pendant design, as shown above, was included in all the celebrity gift bags for that event.

If you would like to see more of her work, here’s where you can find her!:

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

Steampunk spider - Handmaden Designs LLC

Love Steampunk but don’t know where to start? I’ve compiled a short list of Steampunk resources that I hope will be helpful! As there are quite a number of Steampunk websites, blogs, and online communities that I could list among Steampunk resources, I, unfortunately, can’t list them all, but here are some to get you started.

Tutorials:

Steampunk Instructables
Designer Daily: 15 useful Steampunk tutorials and resources (for digital art)
Examiner blog post: Roundup Steampunk Craft Tutorials
Webgraphics (for digital art)
The Steampunk Workshop
The Steampunk Lab

Books/Magazines:

The Steampunk Bible by Jeff VanderMeer
Steampunk Your Wardrobe by Calista Taylor
Steampunk Style Jewelry by Jean Campbell
Steampunk Emporium by Jema “Emilly Ladybird” Hewitt
The Art of Steampunk by Art Donovan
Steampunk Magazine by Margaret Killjoy and C. Allegra Hawksmoor

Where to get supplies:

Ebay
Etsy
Yard sales/garage sales/rummage sales
Flea markets
Antique stores
Thrift stores
Dumpster diving
Salvage yards
Craft supply stores
Hardware stores
Auctions

Other Steampunk resources:

Steampunk.com
The Steampunk Empire

In your search for Steampunk DIY, don’t forget that Youtube and Pinterest are your friends! Now that you have some more ides of where to look, go have some fun and make some Steampunk!

Cloaked in Shadow - Laura Hepworth

One of my non-jewelry related hobbies is experimental digital photography. Experimental digital photography is a lot of fun and a bit of treasure hunt. You never know what you’re going to find when you bring those images up on the computer and start adjusting the levels!

The image above is one of my favorites. I’d just finished wire-wrapping a gorgeous Bismuth crystal into a pendant and was photographing it. (Ok, so maybe my experimental digital photography hobby is slightly related to jewelry after-all.) While I was photographing it, I got a little silly and started taking pics while moving the camera all over the place just to see what would result. This is just one of the resulting images. The central black form, looked rather like a person to me so I named it “Cloaked in Shadow.”

This is what I was photographing:

Jadis (wire-wrapped Bismuth pendant) - Handmaden Designs LLC

This pendant created all sorts of beautiful, ethereal forms when photographed with a moving camera.

My experimental photography is all posted on my secondary Deviant Art account: Carmenole. (Elvish for: art long-study; closest I could get to ‘art student” in Elvish.)

Collage of great Valentine's Day gifts

I don’t usually do an art feature on Friday, but as it’s Valentine’s Day, I wanted to do something special for it. So allow me to present to you a small selection of the Valentine’s Day delights that you can find in the world of handmade.

Orange and Pink Journal - The Nib and Quill

This is a beautiful, hand-bound journal by The Nib and Quill and is a one-of-a-kind piece. It has been bound in the coptic fashion with 11 chapters (also called “signatures”). Each of those chapters is wrapped with beautiful papers to make the piece all the more beautiful. The book also contains a small envelope inside the front cover to hide a special message! In all, it has 176 pages and measures at 4×4.

If you like this book, you should see the rest of them! You can find The Nib and Quill at the following links:

Etsy
Facebook
Twitter
Blog

Pink Scale Chainmaille Hairclips - Alyce n Maille

Cute, fun, and colourful, these scale chainmaille hair barrettes are handwoven by Alyce n Maille are sure to be noticed! Because they are made from anodized aluminum scales and bright aluminum rings, they are light weight so you won’t have to worry about whether they’d be too heavy to wear! From the end-to-end they are about 3.5 inches long with the flower being about 2 inches wide.

Alyce n Maille also offers these hair barrettes in other colours! You can find these and much more at her various online locations:

Website
Etsy
Zibbet
Pinterest
Instagram
Facebook
Twitter
Google+

Silk floral scarf - Tall Juniper

A beautiful white and floral (Georgette type) polyester silk scarf, this scarf was made by Mona Ankisetty of Tall Juniper. The pattern features red roses with just a hint of gold and silver sparkle. The scarf measures at 45×45 inches (105×105 centimeters).

Here’s where you can find more work by Tall Juniper!:


Etsy


Pinterest

Pink heart stretch bracelet set- Sassy Belle Wares

If you love stretchy bracelets, then you will love this set by Sassy Belle Wares! This is a set of 5 bracelets, you could wear them on their own, but they make a beautiful statement when worn together. The bracelets are made from pinkish-red glass beads with one bracelet featuring a Czech glass heart. They measure at 7 inches, but will fit most any wrist size because of being stretch bracelets.

Here’s where you can find Sassy Belle Wares!:

Etsy
Twitter
Facebook
Pinterest

Red rose necklace - Daria Bukesova

A classy and very elegant piece from Daria Bukesova. This beautiful red rose pendant is handcrafted from polymer clay and just perfect for Valentine’s Day! The pendant is about 3/4 of an inch in diameter and you can request either a 16in or 18 inch chain.

Want to see more by Daria Bukesova? You can find her here!:

Etsy
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

Valentine's Day dog collar - ShanB32Designs

Love your pets? Here’s a great Valentine’s Day gift to them! This 13 to 16 inch dog collar by The Furry Fiesta (ShanB32Designs) is made from all recycled materials and is sooooo cute! (I can see this looking so great on any of those fluffy little white dogs!!)

Here’s where you can find more great pieces by The Furry Fiesta (ShanB32Designs)!:

Etsy
Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter

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