It is all the rage these days to recycle, reclaim, reuse and remake everything in sight, and I for one am all for it. But many DIY show would have us all believing that all this means making great thing for free and selling them for a premium simply because it's the latest craze. Well guess what folks, it just ain't true in most cases. I create many wonderful items out of found, reclaimed and recycled pieces, and let me tell you it isn't for a huge profit. Let me explain.
I began making recycled items like most people, as a hobby. To do something with my old items that I didn't use anymore, or to update things that had lost their appeal. This kind of up cycling is perfect and usually can save you money. I began making jewelry out of recycled and reclaimed copper electrical wire and plumbing pipes about ten or so years ago for my business. All the materials were left over from house projects, so essentially they were free. Then the hard work began. If you have ever seen electrical wire you know that it comes very well wrapped in plastic coating and this has to be removed, with minimal damage to the wires of course. It becomes work hardened while you unwrapped it and a bit kinked, up so you have to heat it up with a torch to soften it and smooth it out, which requires you to descale the wire from the torching and finally polishing it and removing any remaining dings or scratches. The same is true of the pipes with the added possibility of water scale, adhesive removal and possibly crushing to fix. So it may have been essentially free in dollars, but the time you spend on material could be up to a few hours of time, cleaning materials and expertise to make it like new and workable. Not so free any more. In fact it's probably more expensive than a new roll of wire or a new pipe.
Some of the pieces I make are from shell, stones, sea glass that I pick up off the beach. Totally free right? Yes, well sort off, unless the piece need to be cleaned, or polished. Don't get me wrong many of the stones and shell I find can be perfect just as is and that is a true treasure for sure. But many of them need cleaning, resin sealing, drilling or polishing to bring out their beauty or to make them ready to use. Polishing can take up to five weeks in a tumbler and although it does most of the work for me, it runs the entire time 24 hours a day using my electricity. The polish compound and the tumbler weren't free either. The good thing is I can do a large quantity at one time so that helps a bit in the cost break down for sure. Drilling has it's own dangers for me as well as the shell. It might break in the process and it requires me to use a special mask to protect my lungs. Sealing in Resin is to help with a more delicate piece so it makes it stronger and more durable. It takes time and precision to get all the air bubbles out, and 24 hrs to harden.
I also make items from other people old jewelry into new item. Now this you say is absolutely free and these are ready made items so they can't possibly take much to be ready to use. Well, yes they are free and no they are not easy to work with. Items someone gives me from their own treasures are even more special. Many times they are pieces that have a heartfelt meaning behind them. That means I have to be extra careful to not ruin them. Removing a stone from a setting can be quite tricky to do without scratching it. Sometimes they have adhesive that which need to be removed as well. All in all it can be nerve racking and a long process to get it ready to be turned into something new.
Now I want you to know I am not complaining about any of this, I am merely stating what happens behind the recycling scene so you understand the amount of time, and energy that actually goes into an item before the creating process begins when an artist uses recycled or reclaimed materials. I love all these steps, I actually enjoy every one of them and the challenge to me is exhilarating. But is it free? Not by a long shot. Would I give up doing it for all new materials? Never. No artist makes recycled or reclaimed items because it is cost effective, they do it for the love of it. To see something old, set aside or thought no longer useful become something fabulous and ability to let their creative selves run wild in the process.
So the next time you see a piece of work made with recycled,or reclaimed materials, just remember the materials were far from free and the items being sold are priced according not only to what the artist created with them, but the amount of time and love they gave to the material to give it a new life and to bring you an extra special item.
Easter is a great time for reflection. Of course it has many meanings for many people, we all celebrate in our own way whether it be a religious one or filled with fuzzy animals and chocolate shaped eggs, but truly it is a celebration that signals the rebirth of spring and the coming of longer and hopefully warmer days. I love this time of year for the fact that it is a chance to rediscover old loves and try new adventures as well. I hope you feel the pull to do the same.
I am gearing up for my busy season of art shows and outdoor markets, and preparing for my last jewelry class before summer break with Nauset Community Education Program. The Spring class will be a back to basics class. All wire jewelry making in a true beginner style , so if you ever wanted to give it a try this is the perfect class to test the waters. I am also working on a few new pieces to get ready for my first show on June 30th in Sandwich, Ma on the Main Street called Sandwich Fest. It is a one day event with local food vendors competing for the best sandwich around and loads of local artists showing of their amazing talents and items. There will be fun for the entire family to enjoy and of course great tasting food , entertainment and fabulous gift items to purchase. So come by and say hello and have a great time!
I am also running a very exciting Special on my Keepsake pendant that I recently released. From April 11th till May 13th 2018(Mother's Day), I am giving away a FREE pair of hoop earrings with every pendant purchase! The earrings will be made in the same metal as the pendant purchased so they can be worn as a matching set. They will be 1/2" classic teardrop hoops on hook ear wires and will fit nicely with the pendant or any outfit at all. Just go to my Etsy store and order any stone, style, metal and size you like in the pendant during those dates. I will send you a confirmation and a request for a high quality photo and in 3-4 weeks you will have an amazing, very special gift to give.
Of course keep your eyes checking up on my Facebook page for any new items or news in between, and have a marvelous April! May you all get inspired by the fresh sprouts coming up and the birds returning to nest. Happy Spring!
Happy Saint Patty's Day and Happy Spring!
As the days grow warmer and the sun shines longer we begin to feel the pull of mother nature once again to get outside and renew ourselves. I love this time of year for all it's possibilities. It is a time of trying new things like maybe planting a new type of vegetable or planning a new trip this summer. Finding new paths to follow and meeting new people. So even if you find yourself struggling with things you weren't counting on, remember that those too can be an opportunity to do find something good you may not have found otherwise. This is where I am at the moment.
Like everyone, I have struggles to face that sometimes pop up without any invitation or notice. Thankfully I am very blessed to have many wonderful friends and family to help me through them and I try with all my heart to see the good that may come from it. I am also blessed to have many in my life who are amazing examples of how to keep my head up and move into the light even when it seems hopeless. I am so grateful to those heroes in my life. Anyway, I only meant to say that this is a good time to let the renewing of the Earth help renew your own world and spirit. Now onto some of the many good things coming in to my Spring.
I just finished the four week pendant class in the Nauset program so make sure to check out the DIY projects for those to try your hand at some fun stuff. It was a terrific class of just five ladies and we had a great time together. I have a Spring class planned in the Nauset adult program that will begin in April and it is a beginner class on wire jewelry. A back to basics type of class, that will run for just four weeks on Tuesday evenings. I also applied to join the annual Sandwich Fest in Sandwich ,Ma and I just got news that I will be participating in the event! I hear it is a lot of fun, so check it out. I was accepted for two different weeks in late summer for the Hyannis Shanty program again this year. I am super excited to get to try out the new Shanty section they added across from the Aselton Park, it should be a great location. And of course I am looking forward to getting my Photo Keepsake Pendant moving forward and running a Mother's day promotion on it very soon! So keep your eye open for the announcement!
That's a lot of stuff to come but it is spaced out and remember if you have questions on projects, custom work or anything I do feel free to shoot me an email, I love to hear from you.
Have a Wonderful Spring and may the days ahead bring you much happiness and luck!
Happy Valentines Day!
Hello all and Happy Valentine's day! I want to just start by saying thank you for all the love and support you give me, I truly appreciate it. I am so blessed to have so many wonderful supporters, so to you I say " I love you and thank you!"
As I write today, it is cold and snowing outside. It is absolutely beautiful and I am hoping we get enough so I can go sledding with my son later. I am truly a big kid still. I hope you all are safe and enjoying the winter as well.
Anyway to get on with what is happening this month. I will be wrapping up my Nauset winter class of pendant wrapping on the 13th and a Spring class is in the works for April. My plan is to bring it back to the basics for the Spring class. Four weeks to make four beginner projects. I have also released a couple of projects from the winter class onto my projects page so check it out, There is also the heart earring project you can do for yourself or a couple gifts!
I am offering a Valentine's Day coupon to all my wonderful followers. It is begins February 1st and it is for 25% off every item in my Etsy store. Just type VALENTINE2018 at check out and watch the discount be taken off every item in your cart! It ends on February 9th to give you shipping time. Every item will arrive gift wrapped in a white box with a pretty purple bow. Valentine's Day done!
I am currently getting ready for the Spring and Summer show season as well. I will be doing the Hyannis Artist Shanties and I am looking for a few more great opportunities to show my work, so stay in touch or check out my website calendar for upcoming event's.
Have a wonderful February and Thank you again for all your support and Love!
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!
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. As well as the usual stuff, ie newsletters and updates.
A Quiet Mind
Artwork And Where To Find It
Calendar Of Events
Choosing A Stone
Cost Of Materials
Ifaw Cape Cod
Questions To Ask
Sandwich Fest 2018
Stones And Shells