Think Art Loud

Inspiring, Encouraging, and Promoting the Handmade Arts and Artists

Archive for April, 2014

Wire-wrapped Boho statement necklace - Bronze Age Jewelry

Laura Moradi of Bronze Age Jewelry is a jeweler after my own heart, as she also takes much of her inspiration from history. Her particular period of focus is, of course, (as indicated by her business name) the Bronze Age, drawing stylistic and colour inspirations from cultures of Egypt, Crete, India, Greece, and Ireland. Bronze Age Jewelry is also finds design/colour inspiration from the beautiful embroideries and metalwork of the central Asian cultures.

Trained at the Rhode Island School of Design (generally considered one of the top art/design schools in the U.S.), Laura Moradi has a great eye for colour! With the colour complements of blue (particularly turquoise) and orange being one of the apparent favorites.

Wire-wrapped Indian style pendant - Bronze Age Jewelry

Many of Bronze Age Jewelry’s designs are wire-work creations, but other techniques are also used, and all of them just as beautiful as the others. Laura works with a variety of different metals including brass, copper, and sterling silver and just about all of her designs can be custom ordered in any material.

Bronze swirled toggle clasp - Bronze Age Jewelry

In addition, to her finished jewelry, Bronze Age Jewelry also offers a variety of handmade jewelry findings made from copper, brass, and sterling silver for you to use in your own work. Laura also mentions that she plans to add DIY kits as well!

Here’s where you can find her!

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Been working on some new bracelets and just wanted to share! I came up with a new design while goofing around with Celtic Spike Flowers, and, because of the shape, I’ve decided to call them Celtic Raindrops. Hope you like them!

Celtic Raindrops bracelet (sterling/Black Onyx) - Handmaden Designs LLC

Celtic Raindrops bracelet #1: Sterling silver with Black Onyx beads. Measures at just under 7.5 inches long.

Celtic Raindrops (Sterling/Kyanite) - Handmaden Designs LLC

Bracelet #2: Sterling silver with Kyanite beads. Measures at just short of 7.5 inches long.

Celtic Raindrops (Sterling/Jade) - Handmaden Designs LLC

#3: Sterling silver with Jade. This bracelet is just over 7 inches long.

Celtic Raindrops (Sterling/Fire Agate) - Handmaden Designs LLC

4th (but certainly not going to the be last) Celtic Raindrops bracelet: Sterling silver with Fire Agate. This one measures at just under 7 1/4 inches long.

I really love how this design turned out and will definitely be making more of these! I will also be making some of these in copper/enameled copper. What do you think? Would love some feedback on the new design!

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Whether vintage or handmade, a lot of people just love signs. They can make you laugh, make you think, and maybe even make you cry; Signs can also be a really fun way to bring interest into a room’s decor. So, if you are one of those people that love signs, I hope you’ll take a moment to check out the handmade, wooden signs by Country Folks Creation!

Anne Tyler quote wooden sign - Country Folks Creation

The artists behind Country Folks Creation are Angie Folks and her husband. He hand-makes the framework, and she does the painting. They offer a wide range of signs: some humorous, some thoughtful; some quotes, and some ‘rules.’ Country Folks Creation also loves to take custom orders!

Joshua 1:9 Scripture sign - Country Folks Creation

Country Folks Creations is based in Newton, Kansas. If you’d like to see more of their signs, here’s where you can find them!:

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Chair planter - Treemendus Glasgow

Treemendus Glasgow is owned by artists Sophie Steele and Shauna Gray. Sophia and Shauna are home improvement artists that specializes in the restoration and upcycling of old furniture. They clearly has a passion for giving new life to old pieces, whether it’s turning an old chair into a beautiful planter or making a dog/cat bed out of vintage suitcases. Treemendus Glasgow definitely has a lot of fun and unique pieces!

Upcycled end tables - Treemendus Glasgow

Most of the furniture styles that Treemendus Glasgow tends towards using are of either vintage pieces or mid-century modern. They use a lot of vibrant colours and patterns making them into some really fun pieces that are sure to liven up any room.

In addition to the upcycled furniture that they sell, Treemendus Glasgow also runs craft and upcycling classes, and, on occasion, post DIY tutorials on their blog. They also welcome custom orders!

If you would like to see more by Treemendus Glasgow, here’s where you can find them!:

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I know this should go without saying, but when selling your work online it is extremely important to have excellent product photography. Since your potential customers can’t see and feel the piece in person, your description and the product photography are all they have to help them make their decision. Your photography can, and often will, be the difference between being able to sell your work online or seemingly endless frustration of wondering why your work is not selling. They say a picture says a thousand words, so ask yourself, what is your product photography saying about you and your work? You may be an amazing artist, but if you don’t have great photographs of your work then potential customers can’t see that. And even worse, your product photography can also give the impression that you don’t really care and aren’t all that serious about what you do. If the photographs of your work are suffering in quality, then, in all likelihood, many people will not even bother to read the descriptions let alone consider buying. I have been to a number of online stores where I left straight away without looking at anything because of the poor photography. However, despite the fact that we all know that we need great images of our work if we are going to sell it online, how many of us actually do? This is particularly an issue when you are just starting to try and sell online. Sometimes, I think we get in such a hurry to get our work listed in our stores as quickly as possible that we make due with lesser quality images than we should.

But great product photography is about more than just whether or not the piece is in focus or that you have the right lighting, it’s also about how it is presented in the photograph. What kind of background are you using to photograph on? Is it distracting/detracting from the piece being photographed? And, unless, you are using props, there should never be objects other than the piece being photographed in the picture. I have seen a lot of product photography where the photographer was not careful about what was in the background of the picture and it really hurts the presentation of what you are trying to show. People will focus their attention on the distractions in the background, rather than on the artwork being photographed. Some people will tell you to never use any props in your product photography to ensure that there are no distractions and your work is presented as professionally as possible, however, I really think that it depends on what you are photographing. I use a lot of props when I photograph my jewelry (usually rocks and shells), and I do this for several reasons. One, I like the aesthetic of the photographs when it’s done right, but also because of the nature of what I photograph. I do a lot of work with chainmaille, however, chainmaille is not always the easiest thing to photograph in terms of getting enough of the piece in the image while also getting the small details of the weaves in focus. By using props, I am able to photograph a larger area of the jewelry in a smaller amount of actual space. It allows me to be able to get most, if not all, of the piece in the picture without having to have the camera so far from the piece that the details of the piece become too difficult to see (particularly in the case of micromaille). However, if you choose to use props in your product photography, be careful as they can just as easily hurt your photography as they can help it.

Product photography will never be easy. It just has too many variables that can mess it up, (incorrect lighting, distracting background, poor choice/unnecessary use of props, difficulty focusing, camera shake, etc.). However, despite all of its headaches it is well worth taking the extra time to make sure that it is done as best as you possibly can, and will help eliminate, or at least reduce, one of the common hurdles and frustrations with online selling. Remember that they represent more than just the pieces being photographed, but also the professionalism and quality of your business itself so put your best foot forward!

It would seem that, regardless of what kind of artist you are, being an artist also means having to pretty much have your own personal library. This is certainly true of the jewelry arts, and, as there are a lot of really great books out there for jewelry technique books out there, I thought I might highlight just a few of my favorites.

The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques by Anastasia Young

The Workbench Guide to Jewelry Techniques by Anastasia Young:

I absolutely love this jewelry technique book! It covers pretty much everything you need/want to know about jewelry making. It not only has a ton of great information on supplies, materials, and techniques, but also about designing, photographing, and even information about pricing/selling.

Silversmithing for Jewelry Makers: A Handbook of Techniques and Surface Treatments by Elizabeth Bone

Silversmithing for Jewelry Makers: A Handbook of Techniques and Surface Treatments by Elizabeth Bone:

This is another great jewelry technique book! From basic techniques like annealing, soldering, casting, cold connections, etc. to surface treatments (colouring, reticulation, etching, chasing/repoussé, etc.) to more specialized techniques such as granulation, filigree, and stone setting.

Jewelry: Concepts and Technology by Oppi Untracht

Jewelry: Concepts and Technology by Oppi Untracht:

Sadly, I must admit to not yet owning a copy of this, however, I have borrowed it via the inter-library loan system and fully intend to add it to my reference library as soon as possible. You couldn’t ask for a more comprehensive book on jewelry techniques, materials, and concepts! It is quite possibly one of the best jewelry technique books out there.

Making Silver Chains: Simple Techniques, Beautiful Designs - Glen Waszek

Making Silver Chains: Simple Techniques, Beautiful Designs by Glen Waszek:

Great step-by-step instructions for basic chain soldering. Includes many of the classic chain designs.

Jewelry: Fundamentals of Metalsmithing by Tim McCreight

Jewelry: Fundamentals of Metalsmithing by Tim McCreight:

Another one that is not, yet, in my own collection of jewelry technique books, but one day it will be! Tim McCreight has written a lot of great metalsmithing books and any of them would make great additions to a jewelers reference library.

Jewelry Lab: 52 Experiments, Investigations, and Explorations in Metal by Melissa Manley

Jewelry Lab: 52 Experiments, Investigations, and Explorations in Metal by Melissa Manley:

This is a really fun book! Great source for new ideas of techniques and surface treatments to try with your own jewelry work.

Again, this is just a short list of the many, many great jewelry technique books that are available out there and there are more coming out all the time.

Have I mentioned how much I love experimental digital photography? It is just so much fun! Although you may not be able to tell just by looking at the photographs themselves, the subject matter of much of my experimental digital photography is often my jewelry, or, in the case of the one here, my sculptures.

The Creature (experimental digital photography) - Laura Hepworth

Much of the experimental digital photography I do is the result of being curious about what forms, light affects, etc. a given piece would create if photographed while moving the camera all over the place. The results are then enhanced by playing with the pictures adjustment levels. I really love how this one turned out! The object I was photographing, was a wire damselfly sculpture that I made a few years ago as a birthday gift for my mom.

I repurposed some wire candle holders I’d made some years before (I’d made them as props for my final project presentation in Ceramics I.) to make the main body of the damselfly, spray painted some strange looking buttons to make the eyes, and then made the wings and blinged up dragonfly with some colourful beads.

Here are some pictures of what the sculpture actually looks like.

Astrid the Damselfly - Handmaden Designs LLC

Astrid the Damselfly - Handmaden Designs LLC

Astrid the Damselfly - Handmaden Designs LLC

Traveler - Angel Reyes

Angel Reyes is self-taught painter and digital artist from Hormigueros, Puerto Rico. He works with both acrylic on canvas, as well as, creating digital paintings. Stylistically, Angel Reyes tends towards abstraction and surrealism. His work focuses on playing with form, colour, and light.

Meet Me Under the Flamboyant Tree - Angel Reyes

Angel Reyes has a beautiful sense of colour, using a vibrant and (most often) warm colour palette. While he does do some portrait/figure painting, as well as, some still life paintings, most of what he creates are various interpretations on landscapes.

If you would like to see more of his work, you can find him on Facebook and on Fine Art America., Here are the links:

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Crab - Recycleart Sculpture Gallery and Studio

Nathan Nicholls is the artist behind the Recycleart Sculpture Garden and Studio. An artist of many talents, Nathan Nicholls, is a sculptor, photographer, and poet! He is a self-taught Master Welder and a member of the Main Artists Guild. Nathan creates his artwork out of a love for creating and to encourage others to repurpose instead of always just throwing things out.

Venus Flytraps - Recycleart Sculpture Gallery and Studio

All of his sculptures are made from found objects that he then welds together. While he will sometimes paint a piece if it will enhance it’s likeness to what the sculpture is of, most often he prefers the aged look of the natural patinas and rust of the objects he is using. In keeping with that, he also chooses to not smooth out his welds, as he feels their roughness adds a textural interest to the pieces and compliments the natural patinas of the metals.

The Recycleart Sculpture Gallery and Studio can be found at Nathan’s home/gallery in Waldoboro, Maine. However, his work may also be found in a number of galleries and business in the area. If you are interested in learning more about Nathan’s work or visiting the Recycleart Sculpture Gallery and Studio, you can find out more at his Facebook page and website. Here are the links.

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Consignment vs wholesale is another of those decisions that is likely never going to be easy to decide, and both have their upsides and their downsides. When it comes to considering consignment vs wholesale, first of all, make sure that you are ready to take either step as both can cause a lot of damage to your business if you rush into either one too fast. You don’t have to wait till you have learned everything there is about your particular art media before you start considering consignment or wholesale (as that is never going to happen! There will also be something new to learn or improve upon no matter how long you’ve been doing it). However, you also shouldn’t just run out to every gift shop/gallery in your area if you’ve really only just started making/selling your art. When looking to interest a retail venue in either consigning or wholesaling your work you need to be confident not just in the quality of your work, but also in your pricing, knowing what your art is about, who your market is, and (particularly in the case of wholesale) your ability to keep up with a demand for more product is your work does well.

If this issue of consignment vs wholesale is new too you, then, once you feel you are ready to pursue it, you should really start with consignment. Consignment is a good entry into the world of third-party sellers. Besides generally being easier to come-by and wholesale, it also helps you to build up your professional resume which can help you down the road should you start looking for wholesale venues. However, there are some definite risks involved with consignment: damage, theft, lost, and, of course, trusting that those you are consigning your work with are honest. Whenever possible, get a consignment contract in writing and signed by all parties involved! First of all, a good consignment contract will explain to you when you get paid, how you get paid, and cover all other relevant issues such as who is liable in case your work is damaged, lost, or stolen (some galleries/stores will compensate you in the event any of those happen, but others will not). And secondly, having a signed consignment contract allows you legal recourse in the event that the consignment venue is acting dishonestly. It’s one of those things that you hope you will never need to use, but best have just in case.

With wholesale, you have the benefit of being paid up front, unlike consignment where you wait, hope, and pray that you make a sale. However, your selling price for wholesale will be lower than that for consignment, and wholesalers can be much harder to find. Also, before considering wholesale, make sure that all your legal business documentation is in order as tax numbers are likely to be required for any wholesale agreement.

When considering consignment vs wholesale, really take into consideration what kind of an artist you are. Do you enjoy making the same designs over and over with only a few modifications, or do you thrive on making completely one-of-a-kind work? Knowing where you stand on this will help you identify whether you are better suited to consignment or to wholesale. If you don’t like making the same or similar thing over and over and over, than wholesale may not be for you. So before you push too far forward with making a decision on consignment vs wholesale, take a minute to consider how well either one fits your business, not just where it is right now, but where you want to take it down the road.

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