Tuesday, October 4, 2011

And now for something completely different

I made this last weekend at Art is You in Petaluma, an art retreat. I was signed up for 3 1/2 days of workshops, but was so busy with making jewelry that I could only attend one. It was a tough choice, but I decided to forgo the jewelry making workshop with Thomas Mann (seeing as I make jewelry 7 days a week as it is) and I attended the Michael deMeng workshop, Dr. Xray's portrait.

Using transparancies, photos, found objects and Michael's fantastic aging techniques, this is what I came up with. I started off with an old photo that I took in Uganda (which had been printed on watercolor paper via polaroid transfer), a transparency of the photo, a bank receipt from Cairo and a deep frame. It was really fun to do something totally new and different, and I hope to do more workshops with him next year. Click on the photos for a much more detailed view.

And since we artists have to support each other,
I came home with this amazing piece of Michael's.

Check out Michael's blog here. His books are great, and if you ever
 have a chance to take one of his workshops, do it! You won't regret it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Handmade and cheap Chinese knock offs

I was contacted last night by Jessie, who has the lovely Etsy shop westbyron  She works in metal clay and I've always admired her work. She just discovered that many of her designs are being knocked off very cheaply in China, and are being sold by supply sellers on both Etsy and Ebay, and as finished jewelry on Etsy. She is devastated, to say the least, and was hoping I would have some advice for her. As I understand it, because they are being made in China, copyright law doesn't apply. This is all SO wrong, yet there is nothing that we artists can do about it. Putting our work on the internet leaves us wide open for this sort of thing. There's a Chinese wholesale marketplace site called Alibaba which has a huge number of Etsy photographs on it. They don't even photograph the knock off themselves - they take the photos directly from Etsy and use those to sell with. This has happened to me, but I try to stay off the Chinese wholesaler sites because it's so infuriating. I was lucky in that the manufacturer using my photos took them down, but many won't.

This is Jessie's lovely, handmade piece. Here it is in her shop

Here is one of the many suppliers selling it on Ebay. 
Tibetan "silver" is not silver at all, other than the color.

Edit - of the shops I linked to has commented and I've taken the down the link. I apologize for dragging her in to this mess as she didn't know. Which I believe is probably true for most, if not all, the people buying the charm as a supply. It's a bad situation for everyone, except the for whoever did the knock offs in the first place.

One of the biggest problems with this is that if these knock offs proliferate and become popular on Etsy, sooner or later someone is going to accuse Jessie of copying. Ugh! I wish there was a solution for this mess, but I don't think there is. One thing we can do as individuals is be conscientious of  how we spend our money. Do we really need so much cheap junk? The cost is actually much higher than we realize.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Old work, new direction

I made this piece almost 20 years ago! It's huge, about 2.5" in diameter (65mm) and the cost of the silver alone would be well over $100 these days, though back then it was probably $10 - $15. It's totally fabricated from sterling sheet, I sawed, I used my pitch bowl and repousse' to give the cheetah form, I chased the details in, and did a whole lot of soldering. Phew! I didn't keep track of how long it took but it was a considerable amount of time.

I've been wanting to do some personal pieces lately, so I've been looking at my work from the olden days, when my livelihood wasn't dependent on selling my work. I've always been fascinated with dioramas and boxes, and much of my older work reflects this. I've been kind of stuck as to what I want to do though, because while I'm sketching and pondering my designer voice invariably takes over and beats the poor artist voice back into submission. Doing this for a living has really changed my creative process. Not that it's a bad thing, I just approach it very differently than I used to and I'm finding it difficult to switch gears.

My friend Lora Hart, teacher and jewelry artist extraordinaire, has recently started offering mentorials on her Etsy shop. I figured she might offer a good perspective on my dilemma so I decided to give it a try. I'm very happy that I did. She offered me some really excellent advice and thoughtful insights and I'm feeling unstuck and ready to create some things just for the sake of creating now - yay! I highly recommend her! You can find her shop here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/LoraHart

I've already started on my first personal piece, I'll post it here when it's done.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Custom hawk start to finish

I did a custom piece awhile back for someone who wanted to see my process,
so I took a few photos along the way.

 I started with her hawk photograph.

I created this black and white artwork from the photo.

Then I printed the artwork onto special paper and transferred it with 
heat to a brass sheet that has been cleaned and sanded in
preparation for etching.

I etched the brass and used it to make an impression in
my precious metal clay.

I fired the piece in my kiln at 1650 degrees for 2 hours and out came
a pure silver hawk. Here it is finished and ready to wear.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A little Photoshop goes a long way...

Taking good product photos is probably the hardest thing about selling your work online. I use a Fuji Finepix  S1500, which is inexpensive and is in between a point and shoot and an SLR. Honestly though, my photos are not so hot right out of the camera (helpful hint: don't have your photo studio in a room with pale green walls if you can help it!) but I'm fortunate in that I used to do a lot of product photo editing in my former day job, so I'm quite well versed in Photoshop. I use two daylight balanced bulbs and a piece of white nylon fabric as a light tent to diffuse them.

The top photo has only been cropped, while the bottom photo has had cropping, rotation, skewing, levels and curves adjustments, hue/saturation adjustments, dodging, burning, sharpening and blurring. It sounds like a lot of work, but for me it's faster to do the work in Photoshop than to fuss with the actual photo taking. I recommend taking an online Photoshop class to really get a good feel for it. I did several semesters online at my local JC and it was well worth the time.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Happy 100th birthday grandma!

My wonderful grandma Paulina will be 100 on Friday February 11th! She was born in a small village called Triebswetter, in what was then Austria Hungary and is now Romania. She came to the US in the 30's with my grandpa and has lived in the Chicago area since, except for a brief move to Fargo, North Dakota. She has 2 daughters, 5 granddaughters, 7 great grandchildren and 1 great, great grandchild. She is an amazing woman and we are all blessed to be a part of her family! Happy birthday grandma! We love you!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Renegade Holiday Fair San Francisco

It's been a very busy 6 weeks here at the Lulu Bug studios, and for a bit of icing on the madness cake I'll be selling at the Renegade Holiday Fair in San Francisco this weekend, Dec. 18 and 19. If you go please stop by and say hi! I'm sharing a booth with my sister, who's work you can see here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/rawartletterpress

Please note that it's not at Fort Mason, it's at the Concourse Exhibition Center’s East Hall, 620 7th St. You can get all the info and directions here: http://www.renegadecraft.com/holiday-sf
Back to work now, I've got a lot to do!