Illustration

In my previous post, I mentioned that I have a separate site for my illustrations. My daughter is a graphic designer and we have teamed together to form a shop called Pronghorn Designs.

I started my career path as classic artist, earning a degree in fine art and, while I originally thought I would go into painting, I always seemed to drift back to drawing. I love the details. The above drawing of a dragonfly was done while looking through a magnifying glass. That is how much I love the details.

My drawings are almost always inspired by nature. I am not a big fan of architectural drawing or of portraiture although I have dabbled in both. I tend to gravitate towards individual subjects rather than busy scenes or layered compositions. My focus is rather intense.

My hands are badly arthritic now and I am not sure how many more drawings of this type I have in me. Lately, as in the above drawings, I have been working by stippling (drawing with dots) because my hands shake  too much to make a reliable line. I will eventually have both of my thumbs rebuilt but until then, I will focus more on the metal work.

 

It’s Been a Long Time!

As 2016 is drawing to a close, I realize that, while I did not manage to make it the year that my shop became successful, I DID manage to hone my skills and determine exactly what it is that I want to accomplish with my art. I have turned my jewelry design in a brand new direction and have settled in to metal smithing.

I have thus far, been working predominantly in copper. The colors I can achieve are really amazing but I have a very long way to go before I can say that I actually have any control over the outcome.

When I started, I was more interested in the shapes I could form and had not realized the full potential of the copper. I will be working more towards fold forming and color combined in one piece, There is still A LOT to learn,

My shop will go back into full sale mode beginning next year. I also have three other shops under my thumb: one for my illustrations, one for my personal journey and one for the extra supplies I have lying around that I no longer need. So busy is going to be my new name! Stay tuned!


A New Shop…..Again.

I know it seems like I open a new shop just about every year. First I had my gift shop Tangible Imaginings. Then I added Blue Daisy Supplies and its counterpart Blue Daisy Antiques. Both of these are idle at present, but I am getting ready to open the supplies in the next week or so. Now I have added Tough Girls which is a shop catering to gifts for women who need comfort. I will also be starting a blog here on WordPress at ToughGirls.org. I hope to discuss ways of healing, helping and coping. Lastly, in the not TOO distant future, I will be opening a shop called Pronghorn Designs which will cater to crafts made and sourced entirely in Oregon.

WHEW! Somewhere in between, I will be making things to stock these shops and maybe looking for a partner or two who have a similar vision.

My husband and I have taken on a quest to collect as many interesting rock samples as we can use from various sites here in Oregon. We plan to use these stones and any interesting wood we find as well, in our Pronghorn creations. A few weeks ago, we went in search of thunder-eggs. We found a well known spot, got out our shovels and stood there wondering where to begin. They say in rock hunting, if you don’t know where to start, you should dig where someone else has already been digging; so that is what we did. We were in dust up to our eyeballs, clamoring under old dead tree roots and eventually we came home with a bucket full of good candidates. Of course, once we got home, we realized that we had no way to cut into these incredibly hard stones and that is where we sit today.

Most of the thunder-eggs from the area we dug are red jasper. Some could be agate, but it is unlikely that we will find a geode amongst the heap.

Our next foray into stone searching will be for something a bit smaller and more useable. We will be heading out for a long weekend to collect Oregon Sunstone, a fiery form of Feldspar that can be clear as crystal or internally fractured with shades of the sun. In a rare case, you might find a bit that is greenish-gray and full of schiller. I can’t wait!!!

I’m Back!!!!!! (say it like Poltergeist)

I can’t believe it has been a year since I really posted anything on this site. I only meant to be gone for a few months but in the end it took us 8 months just to get moved. We had to clean out a 2200 sf house that had been continually occupied by three generations for 35 years. You can imagine, I imagine, the amount of junk that that many people can tuck away over that long a period of time. We (my family of 6) were by FAR the worst of our little group, I take full blame for 85%. It’s hard trying to find room to run a home business, especially since I have yet to determine what it is exactly that I do. It’s a bit of art, a bit of jewelry design and a lot of crochet, but if the sky were the limit, I would be making things 20 hours a day out of almost any and every material you can imagine. I have sewing supplies and clay and cloth and wire and rocks and buttons and paper and…..well, you get the picture. I’m a hot mess

So, all of that being said, I still do not have a studio in our new home. My husband, Steve, and I have been frantically building storage in just about every little nook and cranny and we even turned the new wood shed he built into a “temporary” dumping ground for my supplies. We have grand plans that change almost weekly as to what my studio (or craft shed as he likes to call it….Ggrrrrr) will look like. Do we need a full foundation or will gravel and blocks work? Do we want windows? Some make good lighting, too many and you lose wall space….how about shelves that cross over the windows? Back to the drawing board.

In short, I am very thankful to finally be moved and I will start filling in the gaps here more regularly. While you wait, here is a photo of my dream house.

.House 2015

The Thing About Custom Orders…..

One of my oldest an dearest friends is also my best customer on ETSY. Every year about this time, she orders several things from my shop and, occasionally, she has me custom make something for her.

This year she asked me to make something for one of her friends. They live in New York, where I grew up and in truth, I have not actually seen her in over 30 years.

When I asked her what kind of hat, she showed me a photo of a regular knit cap. Whan I asked her what color, she said brown….soft….mixed browns maybe….that was it.

So, in my usual, compulsive, perfectionist way, this is what I have so far…….so far…….

IMG_1961-001IMG_1960IMG_1959IMG_1958

 

I am not sure if it is a driving need to make sure the customer always gets what they want, or a nagging dissatisfaction with almost everything I make.

I honestly have never had a single complaint about anything I have made and all of my custom orders have been received with more praise than I expected.

I know she will be happy with whatever I make, I just want it to be better than whatever she is imagining, and I can’t begin to guess what that is!

So this, along with year-end books, my REAL job, Christmas chaos and a really bad head cold have summed up my December so far…..

Now, back to the crochet!

Welcome to My ETSY World

IMG_1449Vintage bead necklace

As you may have surmised from my blog, I have an ETSY shop.

ETSY is an on-line crafter’s web site that allows each seller to maintain their own internet store. Until recently, only handmade, vintage and supplies were allowed as shop wares. Now ETSY also allows designers to create their own product and  have the actual items manufactured by a second party. Some folks are happy about the change, others are not, but that’s the basic gist of what ETSY is, if you are unfamiliar with the site.

When I first signed up, I could not remember the name. I wanted to call is ESTY, because that followed the basic rules of the English language. It was easy to upload pictures and follow the instructions for descriptions and price. I think the hardest part of posting is trying to come up with a list of 13 “tag words” that could easily be picked up by a search engine as a customer is combing the web for your product. Most Etsians (that’s what we call ourselves) would agree, I think. There are whole tutorials about picking the correct words and something called SEO, which I later learned was short for “search engine optimization”. Everyone likes to feel a bit smarter by making their new fangled computer lingo into an acronym.

IMG_5402-0013 colored crocheted baby blanket

So, I started with ETSY about 2 years ago. I was THRILLED to find a place that seems designed to help someone like me (a closet artist who likes to make nice things) find a venue to sell their creations. I had read some really great success stories and thought that I coud at least make a bit of side money while I was a stay at home mom. Let me be clear here. I call myself a “closet artist” because in a real sense, I am just an artist who has not managed to come out and express that to the world yet. I have a degree in fine art and have been creating in one sense or another my entire life. I always told myself, when I was younger, that I would NEVER cave in to becoming a “crafter”. To me “crafting” was not ART! Boy, was I wrong!

Through ETSY,  I have seen some absolutely AMAZING creations. The ability to share ideas and the products that came from them is really the soul of the site. There are forums and teams that supply you with endless insight and support. Etsians create treasuries, which are a collection of 16 items with a similar theme and then post them for the rest of the world to see. It is a clear and continuous way to help support fellow artisans by showing off what their peers find to be interesting or pleasing to the eye. I particularly like making treasuries of the oddities that some folks post, like sculptures made out of dust bunnies or giant octopus tentacles that you can hang on your wall like a hunting trophy.

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ETSY was my new “home” and in the beginning, I spent hours pouring over what others have made and how. Then I started adding my own creations to the mix and found that what seemed like an easy solution to my need to make some petty cash, was not as easy as I had thought it would be….

Etsy and the Future of Handmade

I was recently engaged in a conversation with another blogger about the new changes that have been made to ETSY. If you are unfamiliar with ETSY, as imagine most of you are, it is (or perhaps was) the foremost site on the web for selling and purchasing handmade arts and crafts. If you were looking for a truly unique, one of a kind hand crafted treasure, ETSY was the place to look.

When I joined ETSY in 2011, I was extremely optimistic. Not optimistic that my handmade crafts would sell necessarily, but optimistic that there was a place out there on the great information highway that was not only listening to the small, introverted, creative wave that pulsed vibrantly through space but also celebrating it! We have always been here. The craftsmen, the artists, the woodworkers, sculptors, jewelry designers, painters, weavers etc. Our ancestors have their handiwares in museums, because they are considered to be a part of an important cultural past and, well, a lot of what we make is just plain AWESOME.

We are special…bear with me….To decide to make one’s living as an artist, takes guts. It takes a belief in yourself that most of society did not help nurture. Most of us had to turn our backs on “better” careers that would have ensured financial stability. Most of us still have a “real” job on the side to support what the majority of non artists see as a hobby. Most of us…heck ALL of us, can’t help ourselves. The desire, the need to create is innate.

ETSY was a place, where we could all congregate, converse, support. promote and CARE about each other. I am an introvert, and I do not use that term lightly. ETSY gave me a platform that allowed me to not only show the world my talents, but give them value in the form of cold hard cash. Psychologically speaking, ETSY was great therapy, it was a safe place to take a risk with something new, or collaborate with others to create something unique. We, as artist, did not have to compete with machines, or corporations, or mass produced junk. We were among friends, kindred spirits, we had a home.

At this point you are most likely wondering why I am writing this all in the past tense. ETSY has, at the urging of those with their hands on the financial forecasting spreadsheets, decided to allow artist to have their designs created by a manufacturer. Now at first, you might think this is no big deal, and in truth, sellers like this have been popping up all over ETSY for years, unchecked to my knowledge. But what this means is the ETSY marketplace will be dramatically altered. If I design a dress, I can have a factory make it in a variety of sizes and colors. I can send my drawing to ZAZZLE or a similar site and have several cases of coffee cup made, ready to ship. I can, in theory, design almost anything my heart desires and have it mass produced to sell on ETSY. Now, the powers that be, say that the seller will need to identify themselves on their profile as a designer, not a crafts person, but lets get real, who looks at a seller’s profile before making a purchase any more?

So, now when a customer wants a unique, hand crafted treasure, and they type in “coffee cup” they will have to wade through the same mass produced products they can find anywhere on the web. They will have to read every seller’s profile to see if they are getting what they want. Mass produced items will have a lower selling point, so when a buyer is looking to spend only $20.00, their top options they will see will not be from the artisan, but from a designer. Don’t get me wrong, the creative world turns on designers, EVERY item you buy was designed by SOMEONE. My own daughter is in art school hoping to be that someone, some day. I have a great respect for all areas and levels of creativity, but ETSY was the one place that WE had. WE the hands on crafts person. WE who had no other venue but seasonal craft fairs and farmer’s markets. WE who so desperately needed and deserved a platform high enough that someone could hear our voice. And now it is gone.

The kind folks at ETSY have told us that they know they did not implement the support structure to protect the lowly artisan from mass produced items…. YET. They know that they “still have a lot of work to do”. They know we are unhappy. They know we feel betrayed and I hope they know that by not giving us, the artists, a voice, they have ruined many dreams and put many of us out of business. They tell us they know……they know. But do they care?

Please let me end by saying that as a shopper, I still highly recommend ETSY. There are still thousands of artists slugging their way through, trying to get your attention. We on ETSY have heard from several of you, who despair at the time and effort it takes now to find us through the confusing mess….please don’t give up on us. We need you!!!!