Think Art Loud

Inspiring, Encouraging, and Promoting the Handmade Arts and Artists

Archive for March, 2014

chainmaille Goa'uld hand device - Handmaden Designs LLC

I made this piece a few years ago, but it is still one of my favorite personal challenge pieces that I’ve done. I’d had the idea for some time to attempt a chainmaille Goa’uld hand device (yes, I am a geek!), and when the ‘fantasy’ theme contest came up on Maille Artisans I just couldn’t resist giving it a go. Making this chainmaille Goa’uld hand device (also called a ‘kara kesh’) was definitely a challenge, although not in the ways I thought it would be. The basic construction was a lot easier than expected, I simply needed to use European 4in1. The difficult part was in the planning of the different pieces and fitting them together. I spent probably at least 100 hours working on this: researching the original hand device design from Stargate SG-1 to make sure I got it right, sizing and re-sizing the piece as I went, and then doing more research to compare the results I was getting with the original. The chainmaille Goa’uld hand device ended up taking about 100ft of copper wire to make, and I am soooo thrilled with how it turned out.

Making this piece turned out to be just the beginning in geek chainmaille project ideas that I’ve had. Since making this, I’ve also made a chainmaille elf-ear cuff earring, and have been planning another major sci-fi project that I can’t wait to do!! (But sadly have to as I don’t have all the materials for it.) However, if I can pull it off it will probably be my ultimate geek-maille project: a chainmaille Borg head piece. Photographing that will be fun!!

Molly McCurdy is a different kind of artist. She is the owner of Light of the Moon Dulcimers, and, as you can guess from her business name, she creates handcrafted mountain dulcimers.

Humming Bird mountain dulcimer - Light of the Moon Dulcimers

Light of the Moon Dulcimers is based in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, but Molly’s love the dulcimer began early on with her uncle, another dulcimer maker. Her business is so named because while balancing raising her children and going to school, Molly would work on her dulcimers into the early hours of the morning. All of the dulcimers she creates are signed, numbered, and one-of-a-kind pieces often embellished with beautiful woodburning and carving.

Handcrafted mountain dulcimer - Light of the Moon Dulcimers

Molly’s love of the dulcimer has been passed on to her granddaughter, Arianna, whom she has recently taken on as an apprentice. It is Molly’s hope that one-day she and Arianna can open up a dulcimer shop.

Not long ago, Light of the Moon Dulcimers, had a very exciting custom order. ’80s pop icon , Cydni Lauper, recently custom ordered a dulcimer from them with orchids wood burned on the top.

If you would like to learn more about Light of the Moon Dulcimers, her’s where you can find them:

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Whimsical Curiosities was founded in 2009 by assemblage artist Lauretta Lowell. In 2002 she had experience a serious head trauma and had to relearn how to walk, write, and even talk. She chose to explore assemblage art as sort of a self-imposed art therapy to help her mend, and by doing so she also discovered a new passion which has now become a business and Whimsical Curiosities was born.

assemblage sculptures by Whimsical Curiosities

None of Lauretta’s creations are pre-planned. She just begins and lets the pieces fit together as they will and create their own story. She creates both sculptures and assemblage wall-art all out of repurposed found-objects.

On Wings & a Hare - Whimsical Curiosities

Lauretta Lowell creates very unique (and as her business name implies) whimsical creations, and is an award winning artist from Palm Desert, California. The artwork of Whimsical Curiosities may be seen in a number of art/design galleries. She also sells her work locally at various art shows and festivals.

If you would like to learn more about Whimsical Curiosities or where you can find her work, here is the link to her website:

Website

With sites like Handmade Artists, Etsy, Artfire, Zibbet, etc., it’s been made so easy to ‘set up shop’ online that selling offline might get neglected. You sign-up, make your page, and beginning listing and promoting as much as possible and wait (hope) for the sales to come. However, while the Internet is certainly a necessary part of any business, where you are going to get the most sales will almost never be online, but where people can see your artwork for themselves and talk to the artist about it.  If you intend to make a serious business out of your handmade products, selling offline is generally going to be even more critical than making sure you have an online presence. As difficult as it can be to know where online is the best place for you to sell, selling offline is often even more difficult, however, it is a very important part of most any business. Finding the best method/venue for selling offline is not at all an easy task, and can be extremely frustrating in the beginning, but very rewarding.

If you are new to selling offline, you quite possibly find the thought a little overwhelming and may not be sure where to even begin: begin locally. Find out about any craft shows, art fairs, bazaars, farmers markets, etc. that are going on in your area and give a few of them a try. Even if they turn out to not be the right kind of show for you, you will still be able to learn from the experience and it will help you in finding the right shows for your work. Start small, don’t just jump into the deep end of the pool without having learned how to swim.  When I first started selling offline, I started with the small craft shows in my area. They were one-day shows that cost $25-$30 a table. With most of them, I didn’t even make my table cost. Discouraging? Yes, however, I still learned a lot from those shows. I learned how the whole process of apply to and preparing for a show works, how to display your product, interaction with potential customers, and they still got my jewelry out where it could be seen and any amount of exposure gotten from shows (whether they are good or bad shows) is always a good thing. I also got some very valuable feedback about my jewelry because of these shows which helped me to realize that my work wasn’t doing well there not because there was something wrong with my work, but because they simply weren’t the right kind of shows. Both the other vendors, as well as, the patrons at the shows kept telling me that what I needed were not the craft shows, but the art fairs. Once I started trying the fine art shows, I found that they were right. I’ve gone from shows where I couldn’t even make back the $25 booth fee to shows costing between $100-$200 and making in 1 or 2 days the equivalent of 2-3 months of checks at my part-time job.

So, if you are just starting to sell at offline venues, get your feet wet first with the small shows in your area to get a feel for how shows work and what kind of show does well for you.  Local shows, you can often find out about at your chamber of commerce office, or sometimes even posted around town on public bulletin boards.  Once you gotten more comfortable doing shows and have a better feel for what kind of show you need, you can begin looking farther afield from where you live.   There are all sorts of websites out there to help you find shows, as well as, printed publications that can assist you in finding shows.

Other options for selling offline are selling via consignment or wholesale, however, I would really recommend you approach either of these options very carefully and not rush into them before you are ready to.

Specializing in southwestern style wire jewelry with a modern twist, Azteca Designs Boutique is owned by jewelry artist Heidi Williams.

Song in Your Heart necklace by Azteca Designs Boutique

Azteca Designs Boutique is largely a web-based small business that has made Zibbet their home (they do sell locally as well; they are located in enid, Oklahoma). Originally, they could be found on Etsy, but, when the artist’s mother-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 brain cancer, Heidi decided to close her shop. Sadly, her mother-in-law passed away in 2013 after battling her cancer for a year-and-a-half. (Heidi, my sincere condolences to you and your family!) She, Heidi, has since moved her store to Zibbet and has recently reopened her buisness.

Twisted Charms necklace by Azteca Designs Boutique

Much of the jewelry by Azteca Desigs Boutique is made from non-tranishing copper, but Azteca Designs Boutique also works in argentium silver. She offers a wide range of jewlery types: necklaces, bracelets, earrings, ear-cuffs, as well, as sets. However, while she is primarily a wire-jeweler, Heidi also makes southwestern style leather bags/purses.

If you’d like to see more by Azteca Designs Boutques, here are the links!:

Store
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Blog

And, Heidi, all the best to you at your new store location!

Just wanted to make a general announcement about some changes to my blog posting schedule so no one wonders why my blog has gone silent on some days. When I started this blog, I planned to post 5-days a week. However, I had nooooo idea how difficult it was going to be to do that every week with the weird offline schedule I have and other obligations. So, starting this week, I have decided to try a rotational blog post schedule. One week, I will be making posts Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and the next week Tuesday and Thursday and so-on-and-so-forth. I will still be doing the same themes, just on a staggered schedule that takes some pressure off of me and allows me more time to plan out posts. If you find you like this new blog post schedule better please let me know!

Although I presently live in the U.S., I was born in Cork, Ireland and whenever I go back over (which, I’m sad to say, has not been for some time) it still feels like home. So, since it’s St. Patrick’s Day today, I wanted to share some of the pieces I’ve done that have been directly influenced by my love of Ireland (and Celtic design/history).

Symbols of Ireland by Laura Hepworth

The drawing shown above was a piece I did for an assignment in Drawing II while I was in college. It was a five step assignment. Unfortunately, I can’t completely remember what all the steps were, but it started with picking a small object to draw that had some kind of meaning to us. I chose something that reminded me of Ireland: a pound coin. Each subsequent object, or part of an object (some portions of the assignment involved deconstruction and metamorphosis), the stag, to the outline of Ireland, the Celtic zoomorph from the back of the old 1 pence (I miss the old coins!), a 50p morphing into the Irish 50cent Euro, and the Celtic knots, each piece I drew was a symbol of Ireland. Well, with the exception of the border, we were each assigned one playing card and had to incorporate some portion of that card into the drawing; I chose to make a border from one of small almost unnoticeable elements on the face-card I was assigned.

Celtic Knot wood carvings - Laura Hepworth

I love Celtic knots, however, I don’t think that I ever want to carve them again! One of the assignments in my Sculpture class was wood carving (via a dremel). Instead of carving a single piece of wood, I chose to carve multiple smaller pieces in different types of wood (my dad has lovely selection of wood!) and have each of the large carvings be different Celtic knots and the did zoomorphs for the smaller ones. The carving was rather fun (except for when I slipped with the dremel and took a good chunk out of my nail/finger; that was not so fun), but very tedious!! I kept asking myself why I’d brought that torture on myself by choosing to carve Celtic knotwork. Particularly, since before this assignment I’d never done an wood carving before!!

Eibhlin chainmaille necklace - Handmaden Designs LLC

Another, though more subtle, way that my art has been influenced by Ireland (and the Celts in general) is seen in much of the jewelry that I make. One of my primary techniques is that of chainmaille, and chainmaille was invented by the Celts to make better armour. The set shown above, also takes inspiration in Celtic design. It was specifically inspired by the Celtic revival pieces created by Archibald Knox for Liberty & Co. in the 1800s during the Art Nouveau movement.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and I hope you enjoy this selection of Ireland/Celtic inspired artwork as much as I enjoyed making it!

I know some take issue with how Pinterest works (does it or does it now violate copyright laws, etc.), and can be a bit of a hot topic. However, I thought I’d blog about the usefulness of Pinterest for businesses, and in particular, handmade businesses.

First of all, Pinterest can be a great marketing platform. Pin the image/description of one of your art pieces from its website listing and you now have a free advertizement with store link and one that can spread across Pinterest to reach more than just those that follow your account. The more people that your pin reaches, the greater the probability that that pin will result in a sale, and yes, sales do get made because of Pinterest. I had two sales last year that I know can be traced back to one of my Pinterst followers. It’s not guaranteed, but then there is never that guarantee with any form of advertizing/marketing. You just keep at it, and, eventually, the sales begin to come in.

However, Pinterest as a marketing platform is the tip of its usefulness to handmade businesses. Besides showing off your work, Pinterest can also work as the online version of what is called an ‘inspiration morgue’ (a binder, box, etc. that artists/designers use to store objects and photographs that could provide inspiration for future project ideas). You can use the boards to organize different forms of project inspiration, (colour, texture, pattern.?), keep better track of tutorials than simply using your browser’s ‘bookmark’ feature, brainstorm display ideas, etc.

Pinterest really is a valuable organizational and marketing tool. If you haven’t tried it yet for your handmade business, I would strongly suggest you consider giving it a try!

K.T. Metal Design is the product of the creativity and imagination of Irish artist Ken Greene from Leixlip, Co. Kildare.

Handcrafted sculpture with small fruit/salad bowl - K.T. Metal Design

Ken Greene specializes in creating beautiful and unique handcrafted metal decor/designs for both inside and outside the home. He has over 30 years in the welding/fabrication industry and has achieved both the Junior and Senior Trade Certificates. On his website, Ken had this to say about his work:

“My passion lies in turning steel, copper and brass into decorative art. I enjoy being able to envision concepts and then creating and bringing that concept to life. Even as an adolescent I enjoyed sketching, drawing cartoons and painting. My inspiration comes from nature and our surroundings and this is expressed in many ways through my pieces.” ~ Ken, Artist

metal calla lilies - K.T. Metal Design

The beautiful sculptures of K.T. Metal Design’s are made from copper, brass, and/or steel and have been MIG welded; many of which are both functional as well as decorative. K.T. Metal Design is a registered member of the Crafts Council of Ireland.

You can find out more about K.t. Metal Design at the following links:

Website
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This next featured artist is a very different type of wearable artist. When I said that Wednesday’s theme was going to be wearable arts, I never said that it was always going to be for people to wear. So, with that said, allow me to introduce you to 4 Black Paws. A wearable artist for your furry friends!

Grassy meadow plaid dog bow tie - 4 Black Paws

4 Black Paws came into being when black lab Leila came into the life of artist Sarah Struett. Sarah wanted to use collars and accessories for Leila that made it clear to other people that this dog was a girl, not a boy. However, she found that it was very difficult to find girly dog collars/collar accessories that weren’t either expensive or rather on the boring side. So, she decided to learn how to make her own dog collars, and, eventually, 4 Black Paws was born.

Black, White, and Red All OVer dog collar - 4 Black Paws

At 4 Black Paws, you can find some adorable dog collars, flowers that attach onto your dog’s collar, and even bow ties for your dogs! 4 Black Paws also offers other products for your dogs besides the wearable kind, so be sure to check out their website!

Here are their links!:

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Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest

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