Your Craft Business in the New Year

With the New Year now upon us, I thought I’d take a moment to share a blog I’ve found rather enlightening over the last few years.

When one gets serious about art, that business aspect almost always creeps in. To sustain our art (or obsession as it often is), selling our work becomes a necessity. Artists are usually business minded so it is very helpful to have a helping hand in that area.

The Craft Business Biz blog written by Terri Belford covers that one area of arts and crafts that most of us would prefer to think about as little as possible. It can be a bit heavy on the dramatic marketing in the way the blog is set up, but the advice is generally pretty good. For example, his post earlier this month on making your business stand out is just a short list of common sense things you can do to help boost your business. Terri only posts a few times each month so it’s not stuff you’ll be getting hit over the head with. But it is great to get those little reminders to think about improving your business on a regular basis.

The New Year should not be the only time you work on improving what you do, but it is a good place to start.

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Outside Influence: Art on Nature

When I first saw this array, I thought it was polymer and ingenuous work at that. But no … it turns out to be leaves. Beautifully painted details on dead leaves by Elena Nuez of Spain. But its not the painting of each leaf that is so enticing, rather it is the arrangement, the collective impact that gives this image it’s impact.

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Even more wonderful is the variety of ways Elena photographs these. On her web post she has several different arrangements and angles from which she photographs them. The photos–the compostition and view–are the art.

In terms of how we can translate this into polymer, there are several things you can take from this. One, the shapes and colors are perfect for polymer and these patterns could be easily reproduced. It also might give you ideas for making a batches of forms and then playing with the arrangement of them until you either find an arrangement you like for a brooch or wall piece or as a collection you can continue to play with for your own enjoyment. Also, consider that the photography of your work can in itself be art with polymer the subject that helps create the images rather than the polymer being the end product alone. Just a lot to ponder. And enjoy.

Crackly Goodness

I couldn’t let the last days of the year go by without stopping to admire a little crackle. These sumptuous discs here are the work of Barbara Fajardo. She developed a technique that layers alcohol inks to get a multi-dimensional texture with, of course, lots of fine crackle.

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In this case, the polymer is a carrier rather than visual element, but even without knowing the particulars of Barbara’s technique, it’s unlikely that there is another material that could be paired with the inks and manipulated so as to develop the light crackling effect. These are some of the most magical aspects of our medium–the plasticity and ability of polymer to take on a wide variety of other mediums.

Even though color is what often draws us to polymer, it’s the physical characteristics of the material that make it so versatile. One of these days I’m going to count how many ways we can use it just for crackling.

In the meantime, we hope Barbara has the opportunity to develop a class for CraftArtEdu on this beautiful technique. She has four other classes available there right now. If you want to see more applications of Barbara’s crackly goodness, take some time to look through her Flickr page.

 

Color Through the Centuries

Have you ever wondered why certain colors become favorites for a period and then are abandoned almost overnight? The predominance of colors is often a result of social or global circumstances. I found this chart below and the accompanying post highlighting the change in fashionable colors over the decades quite interesting.

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I don’t know that anyone can actually guess what colors will come from a change in global or local circumstances, but a historical view could give you a direction if you are looking to change up your line this coming year. Even if not, it is rather fun to see where we have been and where we’ve come to over the years in our society’s color preferences.

 

Stepping out in Vibrating Color

I know, I know … many of you are resting up after a long, well-fought holiday season. The rest is certainly deserved. But there is no rest for the wicked. Especially if you or your customers have big New Year’s plans!

I actually look forward to dressing up for New Year’s more than for Christmas gatherings. New Year’s is a time for pizzazz, a time for glamor and glitz (without over doing it of course!) and a time to shine.

The first day of the year is a day of hope and high energy, so why not dress to reflect the sentiment of a new start? It doesn’t have to be all jewels and gold, either. Certain color combinations, not to mention visual textures, can really add energy to an outfit. This piece by Two Good Claymates (Carolyn and Dave Good) has a little bit of all of this. Purple and green, a very energetic color combination, set off with the hypnotic look of Damascus canes and faceted beads. That’s dressing it up.

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I haven’t decided what to do for this New Year’s eve, so I need to get myself into the studio and whip up something for myself … for a change. Why not put some time aside in the studio to make yourself something wonderful for the new year?

 

 

A Filigree Farewell to Christmas

Perhaps you are all a bit tired of Christmas, but I only just found this beautiful set late last night and thought one more holiday piece could be shared.

Leah Hagen of LeeLee Beads is a polymer filigree fanatic. She seems to have explored every possible approach for winding thin snakes of clay about a bead. These “Vintage Christmas” beads are a charming example of Leah’s varied filigree approach.

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If you have an interest in polymer filigree, embroidery, or lace like applications take a look at Leah’s Flickr page.

 

 

All I Wanted for Christmas …

… I already had.

I am blessed with the most wonderful family anyone could ever wish for. We all actually really get along, respect each other, and encourage each other’s dreams. I also have many amazing, dear, and caring friends, some that I’ve known for ages, some quite new, not to mention the wonderful network of acquaintances and colleagues I can always count on to keep me on track and make me feel useful and needed by coming to me for help, as well.

And on top of all that–already more than any one person could possibly hope for–I have the most supportive, generous, and helpful readers, both here on the blog and at The Polymer Arts magazine. What more could a girl ask for?

I do hope all of you, whether you celebrate Christmas today or not, are surrounded by your dearest ones and are able to take time to truly enjoy and appreciate the season with all it’s many blessings.

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Our cute little Christmas tree trio was created by  Afsaneh Tajvidi of JooJooLand and was her Christmas blog greeting a couple years back. Thanks to her and all of you who share your gifts with all of us.

 

 

Outside Inspiration: Time in the Kitchen (and yes, it is Monday)

I know I usually do outside inspirations on Fridays, but let’s face it … most of us are probably not in the studio today. Many of us are in the kitchen. So here’s a thought. Where I usually stop to point out how something made in another medium can be translated into polymer, how about we take our skills and creativity we hone in our studios to the kitchen with us?

There are many culinary items that can be  made more appealing and get you that desired “wow” factor by applying techniques and design ideas you already employ in polymer. Design elements like color, balance, line, texture, etc are all applicable to food. The area with the widest opportunities are in the sweets. Just look at these adorable cookies. Cut and stacked shapes, small dots and lines of detail … you’ve probably done something very similar with polymer. So you can see how simple it would be to do the same with frosting or fondant? These fun cookies are by Naomi of HelloNaomi.com.au of New Castle, Australia. (Could you even eat these?! They’re so cute!)

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Cookies and cakes have an easy and direct translation for polymer art, but don’t hold back when it comes to be creative and colorful in the kitchen. Appetizers can be so much fun, too. For instance, arrange that ubiquitous veggie tray into something more enticing by making a Christmas tree shape out of the broccoli with carrot chips and cherry tomato ‘ornaments’ and sliced sweet pepper ‘garlands’. Wrap that soft cheese block with a peeled celery bow (or real ribbon … I’m sure no one will try to eat it … right?) Or instead of a nut and cheese log, how about a nut and cheese wreath?

I just think we, as creative people, should never limit ourselves by putting all  of our creative energy into our primary material.  There are all kinds of materials and moments your skills can be applied, where you can be creative and delight the people around you, not to mention the fun you can have yourself. There is no better time (or excuse) to do so than during the holiday season.

Now go ahead, go get crazy creative in the kitchen today!

 

Yes, It’s All Worth the Aggravation

I have somehow managed to avoid most of the trials and tribulations that are usually a part of the holiday season. Not that there aren’t other non-holiday tribulations putting up hurdles before me but I am very grateful for being an artist and for being able to make, with tons of love and caring, gifts for the people on my list. I am also so grateful for the internet … for letting me shop from home for all those things on my list that just can’t–for some silly reason–be made from polymer clay!

But I do see the hectic lines in the face of my friends and family. I’m sure many of you have or are having those kind of moments. So here is a holiday thought for you. Just remember why you go through all you go through during the holiday season. And who benefits from all you do.

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