Happy New Year!
If you are anything like me, stone, shells and glass beads are like corn chips, I can never seem to have my fill of them! I use corn chips because I am also addicted to those and salsa. As addictions go I guess these two are not so terrible. However it does make it quite difficult to decide which piece to wrap when you have so very many of them and you love each one for it's own uniqueness. So how do I decide what to wrap? Well I will tell you.
I don't. I let the pieces sort of speak to me. I know how that may sound, but it is true. No I do not hear tiny little stone voices, what I mean is I let the stone or pieces sort of roll around in my hand and I try to see the design in my head of a beautiful wrap on this piece of shell or stone. If I can't see it or I feel unsure I go to the next piece in my collection that catches my eye.
I may go back to a bead or stone many times before I am ready to see it's true design, but I wait till the time is right for every one in my collection. I had a wonderful experiencea couple of months ago, you may have read about in my blog a Gem Called Hope, where I had a stone for many years before it spoke to me. It was inspired by a friend, and the stone just seemed ready for that perfect moment, so I just went with it.
Some times a customer can be the reason for when the time has come to wrap a piece, whether it is because they have a special request or that they just happen to see it in my collection and have a connection to it. I have had a few people of all ages browsing my art booth, see my stash of gems and suddenly say "oh, isn't that one beautiful?" That is an opportunity for me to ask why this stone or gem caught their attention and what they see it as in finished form. They usually end up being an inspiration of something quite unexpected and wonderful.
So although you can look at stones, shells and beads with a very technical side of which one is the perfect one to wrap, the most satisfying way for me to decide, is to let the stone talk to me or my customer. As long as I don't start hearing tiny voices, that requires a medical professional or a priest.
Happy gem collecting!
To see what some of the stones and shells are saying to me, have a look in my shop gallery!
I was getting ready to do some work in my studio which is a normal every day/week occurrence. I opened a box of gems waiting to be wrapped and there was one that had sat for about a year and for some reason I felt this energy in it that it was time to get it out and give it a dressing. I new almost instantly how I wanted to wrap it. Not completely unusual, but somehow it was just the right itime I guessed.
But then the most incredible thing happened, a very long time friend who doesn't were jewelry very often, commented on how drawn she was to it, and I felt this intense power of, I don't know what, say to me, she was the one I was making it for all along. Now let me tell you a little about this amazing woman. She and her fantastic husband have had some very difficult times over the past eight years with all manner of trials. They have seen more than their fair share of hard times, but through it all they have remained each others rock and have continually tried to see the bright side, They help others when they themselves had very little. They are an amazing couple and my friend is an inspiration to me and many others. So when I felt this crazy power, I was inspired to not only to send this gem to her because it was meant to be, I also was inspired to do something I have never done before, I named the stone and wrote the story of how it too became a source of light in the dark.
This story is why I am an artist. I am so honored to be blessed with art in my life, because moments like this make my heart so full and happy. It amazes me how my work can touch someone so deeply in a positive way. I am so lucky to have this ability and I am so grateful for it.
On a cool day in the Spring I was mined from my birthplace on a high mountain top in New Hampshire. I was taken to my new home on Cape Cod, where I was tumbled and polished for six weeks.
I then rested quietly in a treasure box, until one happy cool spring day, I was all dressed up and wrapped in silver and gold. I was filled with joy.
I was named for she, who was also carved and shaped through turbulence and tumbling over time. I, like her, have become wonderful and beautiful because of this turbulence. I am full of Hope, not in spite of the turbulence, but because of it. My souls is a bright light in the dark for all who are blessed to know me.
I hope to bring some light and joy into the dark times, and to be a reminder to her of her own light and beauty.
I am Hope.
Suzanne Chambliss wearing Hope.
This is my wonderful friend Suzanne Chambliss and she was the inspiration for this story, pendant and for many other things as well. She is a light in a dark place and a joy to all who are lucky enough to know her. Thank you Sue for just being you and allowing me to be a part of something so wonderful. Love you,
- Art/Craft Fairs - This is the number one place to find local art work, if you know what to ask and look for at a booth. Usually the best shows to go to to find local artists are those run locally and not the gigantic ones that go on for miles. A smaller show run by the local library, church or a town affair, has limited space and therefor will generally give those spaces to local artisans. Not to say you can't find local art at the larger shows, but it will be harder to sift through all the booths to find them. Once at a show be sure to ask the artist what town in your area are the from and where s their studio if they have one? This will help you determine if they are truly a local. Also always check the signs on a booth, sometimes a town and state will be listed on the sign or maybe even a business card, or an about the artist card/poster.
- Galleries - A gallery is a terrific place to find local art work, especially if it is locally owned and part of the local artist guilds. Many town art galleries are specifically for local artisans only and you have to be a member to sell/show your work in them. But you have to ask the gallery owner or staff where the art work/artists are from to be absolutely certain. This is very important if you are going to a gallery that is not town run, because these are not under any restrictions of where the artist they carry come from like in a town run gallery. Many galleries will also include about the artist information as well and this can help you determine where the artist is from.
- Boutiques - Just like the gallery scene, many wonderful local boutiques specialized in local artwork, especially those with a large art community. They are not the ones you see in every city, these are the small boutiques run and owned by local people. But many of these will supplement their shop with non local items and artwork as well. So again it is very important to ask about the artwork and look for about the artist information. You can of course let the shop owner know you are looking only for local artists work, they are usually more than happy to help since it helps them as well.
- Artist's Studios/ Co-ops - Many local artisans have a working studio that may have a shop to display and sell their work. Some artists have full time studios and other have part time ones, so check with the artist for their hours ahead of time. This type of shop is wonderful because you may even get a peak at the artist at work which is fantastic! Some studios may even host more than one local artist (the artist co-op) and sometimes they even offer classes or demonstrations, letting you get a front row seat to the process. Also if an artist has a studio you can visit, this may open the door to another great opportunity, the custom piece! A custom piece is one made just for you and can be extremely special since you get to help in the design process.
- Artisan Market's/ Cottages or Shanties - Many of the artisan market's or seasonal cottages now boast local artist's only. Most of these rotate artisans as well so they are constantly changing the line up to many people's delight. Here on Cape Cod it has become a wonderful place for artist to share the season and have a semi permanent shop during the busy months. Many are town run by the arts programs to help the local artists and bring something unique to it's visitors. As always not all are town run, so it is best to find out through the artist's or the promoter's if the artist and artwork is strictly local. Most have websites with lists of the artist who are participating. These list almost always have bio's on the artist's, when they will be at the market's, their website and usually where they live and make their art.
So the next time you want to enjoy some local art and support your community, go check out these terrific places. They have a uniqueness to each area and you are sure to find something terrific to bring home and treasure!
- Brag,Brag, Brag -This is one of the best ways to help an artist or local business out. If you do own a piece of artwork all ready or have made a purchase in the past and love the item make sure to tell anyone and everyone about how happy you are with the item or work. It is true that word of mouth means everything. Of course you can always ask your artist friend for business card so you can give them out too. But don't just tell everyone in person, oh no, use your favorite social media to post selfies with the item you love and put a wonderful link to the artists website on it. Like your artists social media pages, post pictures and comments on them as well. This kind of promotion is priceless to us.
- Ratings -This one falls under the brag title as well, If your artist friend has a website where you can rate their product or your experience with their work pleas be sure to do it. Every comment and star rating can be very helpful to potential customers who do not know the artist and are considering using them or purchasing the work. Even just a pleasant experience helps a potential customer see the human behind the work and may tip the balance in favor of this artist over another.
- Go to a show/Promote a show - If you like to go to your local artist fair, chances are so do your friends and family members. Out of town visitors also love to enjoy some local fair when visiting so this is a great event to do with them. Bring them to shows and introduce them to your favorite artists at the show. We love to see our favorite people and of course we usually will show our gratitude with gifts or maybe a friends discount. Do not forget to tell everyone on your favorite social media about this great show you are going to as well. You can post links to the show or maybe favorite artists that will be at the show in a comment about your weekend plans. Then of course there is the follow up of selfies at the show with your favorite artists to consider too.
- Referrals - Many artist do custom work or have websites where they sell their work, and any referral you give them is very helpful to growing these ends of their business. So if you know of someone who could benefit from your artist friends talents, make sure to give them a great referral along with important info. Always make sure the referral uses your name so you can then benefit from the referral as well.
- Gallery or local Shop Referral -Do you have a favorite local shop that you frequent or maybe you heard about a show coming up that would be a great fit for your artist friends work. Tell not only the artist about this gallery/shop or show, but also talk to the gallery/shop owner or show promoter if you can about your artist friend. Both parties will be grateful for the referral and again make sure to give your information to everyone so you may possibly benefit from it as well.
So next time you are wondering, how do I help my crazy artist friends and favorite local businesses without breaking my bank, just remember not only do these types of help work, but they may bring you some wonderful rewards as well. The artist will be very grateful.
This is how it goes for any artist or small business owner. We love the public, really we do, after all without you, we wouldn't be able to keep doing what we do, and we actually like to interact with you on a personal level, it's inspiring most of the time. But sometimes you truly can be insulting without meaning to be. You may not realize that what you are asking us is a loaded question, and it may even seem like a perfectly reasonable question to ask. So I am going to give you a little insight as to what questions are questionable and what are better options, so that your experience can be not only informative but also give you some insight to the artist and the work without being insulting and shut out.
1. Do not ask - Will you take this much for that? First and for most, it is not polite to ask an artist to drop their price on an item unless there is a sign saying $45 or BO(Best Offer). As artists, most of us have a very hard time trying to figure out a price and we agonize over it so that we can bring you a reasonable cost and not go out of business. I assure you that in almost every case, the artist is probably not giving you a fair price, but is undercutting themselves with a very small profit. The price of an item doesn't only reflect the materials cost and time on the bench it took to make it. We have overhead, advertising, boxes, bags, business cards, booth rent, display costs and much more, that we have to take into account or we will be unable to continue making and selling our artwork. We are a small business after all.
Do comment - If you truly like a piece of work, but can not afford it, be honest. Tell the artist "I truly love your work( be specific about which piece), but I am unable to spend what it is worth at this time. You can follow that up with asking if the artist has a website or if they ever run promotions or a newsletter that you could sign up for. This not only gets you a possible discount or extra trinket thrown into a purchase right now, but it helps you in the future to get more discounts on more items. It also helps the artist to broaden their customer contact through you, and makes for a very pleasant experience for everyone. An artist who believes you understand the worth of their artwork, is much more appreciative and will show you that appreciation two fold.
2. Do not ask - How long did it take you to make this piece? Although this really sounds like a very simple and innocent question, it can insight a very bad reaction in some cases. Artists can be touchy about this because many times people ask , trying to justify the cost of the item. There are a large number of factors involved in the answer. You see, time included would not only be the actual time on the bench from start to finish, it would be so much more. It sometimes takes years to learn and even longer to perfect a technique. It means the time to design the piece sketching or starting and restarting to get it just right. Time means the prep of all the materials, the assembly and then the final time to inspect and polish the piece. Also the first piece and artist makes and the one hundredth piece will be very different time wise, but the work is generally worth even more if an artist has perfected and become quick with a technique.
Do ask or comment - How long did it take you to learn/perfect this technique? Where/how did learn this technique? Tell me about this piece and it's story. You must have spent a lot of time on this piece. How long have you been doing this type of art work? All these questions are really worth knowing and will usually get the artist talking all about their process and time. It shows that you understand and appreciate the work and the artist, and that will go a very long way in getting your the real answers you want to know.
3. Do not ask- Could you donate a piece of your work to help out our organization and get some great exposure for you? Although this seems perfectly acceptable to ask since you are probably a non-profit program or something very important in helping others, but asking us in our booth is definitely not the right place to bring it up, since we now feel very awkward to discuss it with you in front of other customers. Most artist's have very little profit and they generally set aside a certain amount of our cash flow to go towards advertising and donations ahead of time. Also trying to convince us it is good advertising is unfortunately untrue. Giving away free products does not send people our way, and giving our time up for nothing almost never gives us exposure that brings in customers. It is sad, but true.
Do ask/Do- Give the Artist your card and explain your organization briefly. Then ask if you for a their business card and call another day to make an appointment. When you call bring up your brief meeting so the artist can recall you and how professional you acted. Remember, we are a business and we are currently trying to do business, so we would be much more able to give you our full attention and be more receptive on a scheduled meeting. This kind of approach shows us you respect us, our business and our situation. Also keep in mind we may not be able to give away anything, but perhaps we will be able to give you a wholesale price or maybe work with you on a way to bring our interests together and make it beneficial to both parties. As an example, I know many artists who teach classes with seniors and underprivileged children, who only ask for enough pay to cover the materials cost. This way they can donate their time for free, but do not hurt their business. I also know of a few artists who donate a percentage of their sales to a certain organization every month. This way they can help the organization by making sure this percentage is included in their prices and it helps everyone. We are truly happy to help, but we can not do it if it means our business will suffer.
These are just a couple questions that can make an artist cringe. Let's be honest, Artist's are just like everyone else and we want, like everyone else, to be shown respect and understanding. We are happy to tell you about our work and our selves. We want to help and share that knowledge and understand so that you can appreciate the art we create. But we also want you to remember we are human and we are business owners. Our artwork is our baby and our business is our lively hood. So next time you find yourself about to ask a question, ask yourself, how would I feel if someone asked me this question?
Of course you can also look at other artist's work to be inspired. Never to duplicate, but to be inspired by their creative visions. I especially like to look at work that is not even jewelry, it makes me think in a different way about my own process and how I can use other techniques. Surrounding yourself with other artist of many mediums is a wonderful inspiration. I am lucky enough to have a large group of artist friends and I belong to a couple different groups in and out of my field or art.
Now if we are talking about the knitty gritty of the design itself, that is a process I do in three different ways. Yes three, because each one has it's own pro's and cons. What may work for one wire wrap design may not work at all for another. I also try to keep an open mind if none of these processes works for me.
If a stone/shell is very unique, I may see right away in my head how I want to wrapped it. The longer I have been doing my art the more often this happens to me. Some people explain this by saying "the stone speaks to me." In a way I suppose that is true and it certainly sounds beautiful. I do admit there has been a few times were this process surprised me with such a sudden design idea popping into my head upon picking up a stone, that it felt somehow mystical. But really I think your eye and brain become trained after so many years of working that you just see the best design quickly in some instances, especially if you know the person you are creating it for personally.
Other times it may take me a very long time to see how to wrap a stone. In this case, I will trace the stone on paper in many different angles and then doodle till I get something I find pleasing. This is usually the style I use for custom orders simply because the customer then can choose the design they prefer and it make us both happy in the end. It also opens up my creativity to try different angles of positioning the stone. I may end up with something completely different then what I was originally thinking. I always keep these sketches too, because you never know if a design will work even better for a different stone in the future. I also like to use them more as a reference while creating the actual design, because once you get started you may find that a design looks somewhat different in reality than on the paper. Bumps and variations in a stone are hard to incorporate until you begin actual wrapping of the piece.
Another process is to sometimes just pick a stone and some wire up and let my hands do what ever they feel. It is a more free type of work and can be quite liberating, as long as I am in the best mood for it. It can bring about a truly unique design. But on the other hand it can produce a real frustration and headache if my brain isn't free enough that particular day. It makes me work outside my comfort zone, and that is a good thing to do once in a while to expand your art and your mind.
I am an artist/small business owner and I wanted to share with you the struggles we face in this business and an inside view of what we are really thinking sometimes in our crazy, creative minds.
A Quiet Mind
Artwork And Where To Find It
Choosing A Stone
Ifaw Cape Cod
Questions To Ask
Stones And Shells