Where the Magic Happens

C2303C26-89A5-4BBE-B890-63EBF42BBE60

One major reason why I have been away from WordPress for so long is the long awaited finishing of my studio. Our 10th anniversary was in 2016 and my husband gifted me with this wonderful, little building. I told him that I wanted it to look like a Wild West mercantile. The wood is cedar that was milled by my father-in-law on a small, circular sawmill giving it an authentic, vintage look. The windows were salvaged from my sister-in-law’s house when she had all their windows replaced. My husband designed and built the entire thing including the garden which, soon after this photo was taken, was filled with wildflowers. He has two shops of his own and we turned my old porch shop (see previous posts) into a lapidary for the stones we have been collecting. I think it goes without saying, that I married into a pretty awesome family and I have a more than awesome spouse!

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.

 

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.

IMG_0466-001

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!!!!