Monday, May 31, 2010

American Assocation of Museum Conference, part 2

Last Monday in LA was another whirlwind of activities. I left early in the morning to visit the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, my second "On-site Insight" tour. The SMAI is one of three institutions that make up the Autry .




A group of us walked up the Hopi Trail to get to the front door... that might have been a mistake! I didn't realize what a steep trek it was going to be. When we got to the top we were told they dug an entrance into Mt. Washington and built an elevator, after a past director had a heart attack walking up the stairs, getting to work. Not a lot of switchbacks here!




Charles Lummis was the founder of this Museum, another familiar name to me. I know him best for his photographs of Native American people. He has a very interesting story; his history in California started in 1884 when he left Ohio and walked all the way to California to take a job as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Many of his diaries entries tell about the Native Americans he encountered on his way across the country.


Except for the Library, the grounds of the Museum have been closed to the public since 1994 because of damage caused by the Northridge earthquake. We were lucky enough to have the staff open their doors to us. The Museum houses an enormous collection of Native American art and artifacts, "second only to the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian." Quite an honor! There are 10 collections staff members, including 2 conservators and a woman who is their full-time NAGPRA representative. We hardly have 10 people on staff in our entire museum!

I stole away from my group to visit the Special Collections area for two tours. Kim, the Director of the Braun Research Library, showed us the area and had some great artifacts on tables for viewing. I was in heaven, or at least pretty high up in the air! Plans to reopen the Museum are scheduled for 2013, and the exhibit staff has been planning a number of in-house exhibits; the storyboard below is entitled "Katrinas in Hopi Life" - they've been working on it for over four years.



I met up with Jana in the exhibit hall back at the Convention Center. We had a quick lunch, then hopped a bus for Santa Monica. I just had to see the Pacific Ocean, since we were so close. The bus ride (all city buses run on natural gas) on Wilshire Blvd. took one hour, though we were only twenty miles away from our destination! Gave us a good view of the LA area.


Santa Monica Pier wasn't exactly what I expected. I thought it would be longer, and along the shoreline like Asbury Park, but the boardwalk just sticks out into the ocean.



There was a paved walkway on the beach, but we didn't make it down to the water. We DID do a little sightseeing, bought gifts and ate a great meal at the end of the pier! Some of you already know that I found the Zoltar box, but I have to show everyone a pic Jana took me getting my fortune. What a big thrill! Get it? "Big" lol

So that was my Monday; what did YOU do last week?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

American Assocation of Museums Conference, part 1

Had a great trip to Los Angeles for the American Association of Museums conference. Never been to one of these... There were over 4,000 participants from all over the world, not just the US.
Shared a suite with Jana, a fella worker from the Museum. Interesting, we could tell the people who were there for the conference... most museum people are recognizable!

Our museum felt very small, next to most of the other participants, but it was interesting to see everyone was going through the same "conundrums" in the collections areas. Too many artifacts for the space provided, questions about deaccessioning objects, etc. Went to a few sessions that included speakers from South America. Their problems included getting appropriate materials to work with, in the first place. AAM provided headphones for simultaneous translations - very high tech!

There are so many interesting museums in the Los Angeles area. We were able to visit a few with the “On-site Insight” tours. On Sunday afternoon we went to the Huntington Library and Gardens. I was so jazzed to be able to go, since I’ve heard about them for so many years. There wasn’t enough time to see everything... that was true for most of the sites we visited.

First, we went into the lab and were introduced to Carl Linnaeus, who “invented” the classification scheme for plants in the early 17th century. Actually, it was his birthday, May 23rd ! We all looked into microscopes and examined the flowers up close. Unbelievably beautiful !!












Afterwards, Jana and I went into just one of the many gardens: the Children’s Garden. The kids were having a blast with the water fountains. And I found a turtle!

That’s just ONE afternoon! We were so busy at the whole conference... it was a good thing we gained two hours flying west! I’ll write about more excursions later....

Friday, May 28, 2010

Internet Artisan Interview - lauren abrams

I fell in love with Lauren's polymer clay bracelets and started wondering how on earth she created them. Somehow she molds the clay around a bangle - they're just beautiful! But what floored me even more was finding her purseware shop and website, with purse handles and buckles made out of dyed resins. Her creations just make my head spin! Find out more about the artist behind the pieces here:
  • What's the name of your business/shop?





I have two etsy businesses... my purse handles and buckles (labeana.etsy.com)and my polymer clay jewelry(laurenabrams.etsy.com)

  • Do you have a registered domain name and/or a blog?
http://www.labeanabags.com for my purseware, and http://www.laurenabramspolymerclay.blogspot.com for my jewelry

  • What type of handmade products do you sell?

I create cast resin purse handles and buckles for bag makers.. I've also begun to design bags for knitters using my products. My passion is making polymer clay jewelry...the purse handles are fun to do, and I use white polymer clay to create the originals, then I make rtv silicone molds from them and cast resin into them, then finish the pieces. My polymer clay jewelry work, though, is where I let my creatively really soar. This medium is relatively new, and it's amazing what you can do with it.
  • Show us a piece you recently finished
  • What are you working on right now? Any sketches?

I've been mostly concentrating on the bangles but I'm also developing a pendant that I really like...someone remarked that she thought they looked like kimonos and dragonflies, so I'm calling them "kimonflies"...








  • If you have a website or blog, what do you use for advertising? What do your avatars look like?
I have a website for my purse handles that I'll be updating soon....advertising had been largely word of mouth for that. My blog is for my jewelry, and I "pimp" that on facebook as much as possible.



  • If you have a website or blog, tell us about your favorite widget.
I am pretty much widget impaired lol

  • Which online selling vendors do you use? What do you like best about each one?
I love Etsy...I've sold well there and enjoy being part of the community. It's easy to use and has a great, friendly group of buyers and sellers. I've also used Ebay...although it's changed so much in the last few years, it was always a wonderful place to sell artwork years ago. Ebsq is another place I belong to, although they are not so much about selling as a great place to host your work, and put it out there for people to find.....and it has a wonderful forum.

  • Are you involved in social networking? What's your favorite and why? If you're not involved, you must have a good reason!

Love Facebook....it's a great place to keep up with family and friends....it's also a wonderful way to meet other artists and share ideas. I've also sold work there... The Etsy forums are great too....but my favorite is Ebsq...I've made real friends there over the years and I can't say enough good about it

  • All of us can use a helpful business hint once a week. What's yours?
Do work you love and you will find a market for it. Try to avoid creating work just based on what you feel will "sell"...

  • Do you have a "modus operandi" for computing the price of a handmade object? Tell us your formula?


Over the years I've developed a sense for pricing my work...usually based on the amount of time spent on each piece. I pick an hourly rate I'd like to receive, figure out the price based on this and then test market it....if people buy it, great...if they don't I might drop the price to an amount that's more attractive. I've done a lot of wholesale work in the past (trompe l'oeil painted furniture) so I know how important it is to establish good price points.




  • We'd love to see your little corner of the world, where you create.
lol...I'm in between studios....I have a wonderful new studio that will be ready about a week from now...

  • Where do you see your artwork in one year? Any plans in the works?
I'd like to expand my wholesale base for both my lines, purseware and jewelry....the economy is bound to get better and when it does I want my work in lots of galleries and craft stores.

  • OK, it's the storybeader turn to pick a favorite!
I love the bangles that Lauren is currently making. The colors are just great - her work is truly inspirational!

Monday, May 24, 2010

May Featured Etsyblogger - HandmadeBySandi

Looks like Sandi came to Etsy to destash items, but like most of us, got hit with the Etsy lover's bug. She opened her shop in May 2008, a few months after me! You can find lots of fabrics there, and a variety of small t-shirts.









Her second shop, opened in June 2009, is full of handmade items, "some crocheted, some sewn as well as jewelry." And to top it all off, her birthday's this month. If you hurry, you can get 50% off... big sale ends at the end of the month.

Here's some of my favorites:

Sandi also has a website, Sandi's T's, which looks like a very well organized business! And of course, she has a blog, at The T-Shirt Lady. After all, she IS a member of the Etsybloggers Team, as well as Etsy's Twitter Team.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Internet Artisan Interview - tunabanana

If you're familiar with my handmade journals, then you know how much I love washi paper. So there's no surprise that I was "smitten at first sight" when I saw tunabanana's shop. As far as I can tell, Adora cuts out the design of her washi paper by hand and leaves it up to you, whether to frame it or use the figures in some other fashion! She has told me that she's having problems with her eyes. Gosh, no wonder! All that intricate cutting! Let's all wish her well, and visit her Etsy site!

  • What's the name of your business/shop?
Doesn't really have a name. I guess the de facto name would be my login ID "tunabanana"? I picked the name because I love crepes filled with tuna salad and bananas. I know what you're thinking. It's not disgusting. Anyone whom I forced to try it, ended up loving it.

  • Do you have a registered domain name and/or a blog?
No, I don't.
  • What type of handmade products do you sell?
Paper cut art.

  • Show us a piece you recently finished
I haven't finished anything good enough for sale lately. Eye problem is preventing me from seeing details.

  • What are you working on right now? Any sketches?
I started working on an old fashion English teddy bear before Christmas. The kind with rotating joints.
  • If you have a website or blog, what do you use for advertising? What do your avatars look like?
I have a blog, but not for crafts. It's about architecture, for my day job. I don't advertise my crafts at all. I actually worry that my colleagues might find out that I'm willing to work for less than a dollar an hour with this silly craft business, LOL. My avatar is my Sackboy on Little Big Planet.

  • Which online selling vendors do you use? What do you like best about each one?

I used eBay before. I sold mostly painted Japanese anime scale models. I've been ban from eBay because of an unjust complaint to my brother's account. They ban everyone with the same address. It's so unfair! I now use only Etsy, love it. The fee is low, long posting period, and you get a lot more civilized clientele. But the drawback is when you're not sure about the value of your product. Then, bidding style of eBay works better.


  • Are you involved in social networking? What's your favorite and why? If you're not involved, you must have a good reason!
I'm on Facebook. It's my favorite because it's where my friends are.

  • All of us can use a helpful business hint once a week. What's yours?

I don't make money with crafts. It takes me 10+ hours making one of these paper cut art. I'm selling them at $9.99 a piece. I'm making less than $1 an hour! I don't do it for money, I consider it a cheap hobby.

The lesson here is that you should not neglect the time spent. If this is your day job, it would be more profitable to sell something easily duplicated, such as PDF templates or tutorials.

  • Do you have a "modus operandi" for computing the price of a handmade object? Tell us your formula?
I ask my friends, "How much do you think people would pay for this?" and average out their answers. Don't ask friends who make crafts, they tend to undervalue, thinking "Come on, anyone can make that!"

  • We'd love to see your little corner of the world, where you create.
I live in Brampton, Ontario. It's the flower city of Canada.
  • Where do you see your artwork in one year? Any plans in the works?
Thank you for all the support on my paper cut art , but I think I can't make them anymore. When my eyes get better, I will finish the teddy bear I started. It looks like a female lion or a seal right now without his ears. Making paper cut is very taxing on the eyes. I also gave up knitting and cross stitching. I will do more watercolor painting in the future.

  • OK, it's the storybeader's turn to pick a favorite!

It was hard to choose just one, but I'll go with the tiger. Even though they are all animals from the zodiac, he seems the most traditional to me. And I love the little descriptions Adora gives us!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

almost wordless wednesday - ♫ leaving on a jet plane ♫

I hope we're not flying out on a prop plane!
Saturday, Jana and I are off for our museum conference.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Etsybloggers Carnival - May 21, 2010

May has been a great month for Etsyblogger Carnival topics. I missed the first one for some reason...darn! So I made sure to put this week's post on my TO DO list early... yes, I KNOW it's the 21st! Here are the two topics from Sweet Sally Soaps:

1. Tell about your gardening plans for the upcoming growing season.
2. Show me your all time favorite piece of art and why you find it inspiring.

I don't think I could come up with one favorite piece of art, so I'll tell about my garden plans.


Actually, we already have the garden sown: two broccoli plants, two Roma tomato plants, two cayenne peppers, and two squash. And a sprinkling of onions and garlic. Just enough plants to eat from, and not waste. Most everyone at work has a garden, so it's not too easy to pass off extra veges!

I wanted to grow broccoli this year, because I love to eat it. Don't remember growing it before, so I wasn't sure if it would work or not. We cut our first broccoli head for salad a few weeks ago. One of the Etsybloggers told me she had trouble growing broccoli, so I want to let you in on a little secret! When the first center stalk grows up, get a knife and cut it off, at about 4-6 inches. Then new little ones will form in the leaf axils around it, and all over the lower stalk. If you don't keep picking on it, the green heads will send up tall yellow flowers. Pretty to look at, but that's the end of your growing cycle. Here's two pics on the same broccoli plant:
Of course, everything tastes a little different than store bought... because it's wholly organic!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Love a Tree Day


Did you know there was a "Love a Tree Day"?
* Sunday, May 16th *
Come visit our tree-hugging treasury on Etsy!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Internet Artisan Interview - penelope and pip

Rachael's prints at Penelope and Pip are so lighthearted and fun, it just makes you feel good... and everybody needs a little of that around the house! I first met her shop of little friends when looking for a goat, to go with a blog post about my zodiac sign, Capricorn. What I found, "Don't Panic" was so cute, I knew I would enjoy her other drawings. And all Rachael's illustrations have a story - something that gives the artwork even more depth, if I do say so myself. Come and tell us what YOU think!

  • What's the name of your business/shop?
My business is called Penelope and Pip. I named it that after the original first two characters I found myself drawing when I started studying illustration and design. Penelope is a little girl and Pip is her cat.

  • Do you have a registered domain name and/or a blog ?
I have just started a website that is a place where I post pictures I am working on as well as links to other artists that I enjoy. Depending on how busy I am in the studio I try to post something at least once a week. www.penelopeandpip.com

  • What type of handmade products do you sell?
I sell prints of my illustrations. I usually design characters or drawings in ink and then use all sorts of layers of colour and texture digitally to create my final piece. I use a combination of Illustrator and Photoshop and since Christmas, when I received a super lovely graphics tablet in my Santa stocking, I have been doing a lot of watercolour embellishing in my work. I work back and forth between all those mediums so it can take quite a while for a piece to be finished. In the future I would like to expand my illustrations onto other mediums, but for now I am just trying to fine tune my skills and create beautiful prints.


  • Show us a piece you recently finished
I have been working this week on a series entitled “And then they flew away…” which are drawings of little animals flying away into the sky on balloons. I am always inspired by blue sky and fluffy, sunset clouds, so this was a perfect chance to draw some into my work.

  • What are you working on right now? Any sketches?




At the moment I am busy drawing some little four-colour mini-prints. These are small 6 inch x 6 inch illustrations using my favourite four colours and they involve lots of new characters. All of them feature a little pink bird.



  • If you have a website or blog, what do you use for advertising? What do your avatars look like?
I always use the avatar of Penelope that I started using when I first went online. Apart from my website, I have a Facebook page which I have just started this week. I am running a competition at the moment to kick it off so some lucky fans will win one of my prints! Apart from that I occasionally use the promotional tools in Etsy such as ‘Showcase’. Advertising is definitely my next project!

  • If you have a website or blog, tell us about your favorite widget.
On my website my favourite widget is Yaami stats. I found Yaami back when I first started my shop and used their widget to create a stats box on my page of my sales and hearts. I always find it so exciting when someone adds me as their favourite and it seriously feels like I have won the lotto when someone buys something. I also find it very motivating to keep track of all the beautiful shops that heart me, especially when you see successful artists.

  • Which online selling vendors do you use? What do you like best about each one?
At the moment I am only on Etsy, but I am just in the process of joining an Australian site called ‘Made It’ – I like the idea of trading locally. Etsy has been an amazing find for me – it has really inspired me to improve my drawing and to follow my dream of one day being a full time artist. My favourite feature is all of their blogs – reading about artists all of the world and seeing people’s imaginations come to life is exciting.

  • Are you involved in social networking? What's your favorite and why? If you're not involved, you must have a good reason!
I have heaps of bookmarked blogs on my bookmark menu! I love reading about people’s work and their lives. Facebook is a new adventure for me so we will see how that goes.

  • All of us can use a helpful business hint once a week. What's yours?
Apart from research, the best advice anyone has ever given me is to start as you mean to go forward. Since I have been running my little business I have been diligently trying to run it as you would a big company. I am my own Sales, HR, Development, Quality Assurance and Production team, but I strive to provide a quality product and fast, efficient friendly service to all my customers. I think just being friendly and honest can get you much further than you might think.


  • Do you have a "modus operandi" for computing the price of a handmade object? Tell us your formula?
I have recently been researching this quite a bit as I had a few people asking me about buying my work wholesale and it put me into quite a spin! I am now following the advice I have seen on a lot of other blogs which is to add the cost of your materials and postage and your time and then add a percentage for wholesale and a bit more for sales in your online shop. I don’t really take my time into account at the moment, as I am being cautious not to overprice my work. It certainly is hard to be confident with your pricing when you start, but you don’t want to be too cheap as it undermines everyone else’s hard work too.

  • We'd love to see your little corner of the world, where you create.
This is the little studio where all my ideas are brought to life. I am usually joined in here by one of my cats Mister Mo. He is lovely company!

  • Where do you see your artwork in one year? Any plans in the works?
In the past six months I have felt a strong attraction to heading back to study Illustration full-time for a couple of years so that I can one-day support myself and my family with my artistic passions. For now though, by this time next year I would just like to be continuing with my business and improving all the skills needed to make Penelope and Pip a beautiful illustration folio for people to enjoy.

  • OK, it's the storybeader's turn to pick a favorite!

How bizarre and wonderful this piece is! It just makes you smile.

I love the thought that goes into all Rachael's work. This is the Moustache Merchant... Reginald "had studied hard at school and found himself graduating in at the top of his class. There were so many options open to him: medicine, law, assistant to the Manager of the Biggest Corporation in the World. And yet, something from his past lured him to a profession far from the halls of the prestigious universities...he indeed had become a merchant, a purveyor of the finest moustaches in the world..."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Arts for All Festival - a seller's viewpoint

It’s Monday. I’m looking back, trying to recuperate from the festival I participated in this weekend. It was a very depressing Friday evening, sitting around for four hours, not selling a thing. And I was a bit wary of my tent blowing over, with the gale force winds that swept through Lawton, Oklahoma. But sales picked up on Saturday, so all in all, I had a nice time.

My location was on the west end of the festival, the complete opposite of the Wine Garden. Darn it! Booth #9, out of about 90 vendors. Artists around me were a little upset, saying the nearby sidewalk was taking the flow of traffic away from the grassy set-up. And a lot of people were standing in front of the booth next to mine; another jeweler, an art teacher who knew everyone in town! Her jewelry was very nice - large Southwestern pieces with sterling and turquoise. My jewelry is a bit different - a little more quirky and ethnic. I was told there were a lot of jewelers at the festival, but didn't get a chance to walk around and visit.


I tried to keep busy, cutting and folding my little To Do books throughout the weekend. That was a mistake; nobody was interested in them. The children, who I was aiming at, were so taken with the atmosphere of the festival, they didn‘t have time to look at what I was doing. I must say, it WAS fun watching all the people!


If you’re doing a show soon and are looking for some suggestions, I have a few:

$$$ Keep at eye level with your buyers. Nobody likes talking down (or up) to others. On Saturday, I got out of my folding chair and up on my bar stool.

$$$ Have one of your best pieces in a prominent area, that will attract attention. You can talk about it when they come into your booth. For me, that's my turtle treasure necklace. I always like telling people about my love of turtles, and explain what treasure necklaces are all about.

$$$ Remember there are lots of people walking around - most are not carrying lots of cash. Keep some inexpensive items on hand. Nobody asked me if I had a credit card machine, and I took only one check. One man went and got money out of a machine, like an universal ATM, to buy his wife a necklace she saw in my booth. So find out if there's one around and where it's located.



$$$ Invest in a large banner. Your buyers will decide if they’re interested in what you sell, and it will save you a lot of heartache. People will also see your name and remember it. I heard a lot of people saying “storybeader, how interesting.” They also asked me the significance of the name, and I was able to connect with my buyers on that front.

$$$ If your state charges sales tax, don’t forget to add that to the sale price. People are accustomed to paying tax for goods, and they won’t feel bad. It’s not your fault!










$$$ Have attractive business cards to hand out. I gave away a bunch of my new two-sided cards, that I WON in a giveaway. It was meant to be - they arrived Friday evening, and have my blog and email address on them.

At the end of the show, when you’re figuring out how well you did, remember to subtract the fees from your total sales. I’ve heard that you should sell five times the amount of what you actually paid for admission into the show. Since this festival cost $210 for fees and exhibition space, I should have left with $1050. “I don’t think so!” But I did get my name out to the masses and I sold a few necklaces that I've had for over a year!

What suggestions do you have for festival artists?
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