Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Stop feeling guilty for the mess - you're an artist!

Something that I have noticed since I was a teen (and that was a subject of contention between me and Mom). 
Super organization, tidy drawers, everything set nicely in pretty folders and arranged by size in drawers, go hand in hand with a mind that lacks creativity. 
Creation has always been the result of something that went outside of the order and organized patterns. 
Evolution was always that step outside the set perimeter of steps necessary to evolve, that primordially essential step in the other direction.
 In my life, I have never encountered someone who was a real creator, who had a nice and tidily organized studio. I'm not talking about diagnosed OCD, that one in itself has a different aspect and overflows into the creative pattern, as would be the case of Yayoi Kusama. 
I am talking about regular organization like that one done by an efficient secretary or administrative assistant: lots of drawers, folders, everything where it belongs. 
People with that kind of studio are generally exceptional technicians, if you want. They make marvelously clean-cut and superbly finished pieces.
But their creation process will always need a "helping tool". For example, in the case of a painter, they'd be stuck using the same type of paint with the same type of effect because they saw it once, they learned it and it "looks good". But because of how their mind is shaped they'll never be able to get out of the pattern and try new things. The same, for a polymer clay artist, it would be, let's say, the same type of textures and mica powders and cuts, the same type of canes, or the same type of using metal bezels. Do their creations look good? Most likely, and some of them might even become famous "for their style". 
But they're locked in a rut. If they want to create something different, they can't. Because their mind can't process information differently and can't find new solution. It's not their fault. That is how they're wired. 
You don't believe me? Would you believe science then? Many studies have shown this direct correlation in the patterns of thinking and organization of one own's surroundings. Here's just one example from the Association of Psychological Science:

 Tidy Desk or Messy Desk? Each Has Its Benefits: 

So, if your work table is full of pieces of scrap, the two acrylic paint bottles you've tried something with yesterday and you always have to make room for your current project, don't be upset. All the geniuses in the history of humankind were messy people. 

You're not just an artist. You're a CREATOR.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

How to design your jewelry

A very common complaint in the polymer clay jewelry makers' world (and not only) is "I don't understand what is going on? I'm making tons of jewelry, I even lowered the prices a lot, and I still don't sell! Others sell like crazy and I don't understand why, my jewelry is so much better!"

Well, a lot of times it's not the exposure. It's not Etsy growing so big that you get lost in the crowd or - in the case of your own website - your website not getting enough exposure in google searches.

It's just the fact that you did not do a proper market research.

Art jewelry is beautiful, it's exquisite, unfortunately it doesn't sell well. If your goal is to make a living - more or less decent - from selling jewelry you make yourself, you have to really study your market potential. And take into consideration as well the fact that the market is practically inundated with cheap jewelry (from China or not)

Let's say you make gorgeous elven pendants or Goddess pendants. Who is going to wear those? You have two groups here: late teens-early 20s and the wider age range of the Pagan/agnostic community (or somewhere in between). Also, your jewelry will be worn on special occasions, not on an every day basis. Both of the groups your jewelry is addressing, as a majority, do not make a lot of money. So it is more likely that they'll prefer a cheap Chinese made knock-off of a movie fad something so they have money left to get some of that awesome blue hair dye or do their nails with rhinestones.

Or you make absolutely breathtaking big statement pieces that take a couple of days to make, are pure art, but they just sit there in your store and nobody buys them. Why? Because, unless you have Lady Gaga as your established client, your potential clientele is either young and as such doesn't have a lot of money to spare, or, if they're women in their 30s and 40s, unless they are a Mecena and like to encourage artists as a habit, they'll choose a statement piece from a well known artist, even if they pay 10 times the price of your piece. This is not to say that your piece is not as beautiful as the one of the established artist, but you're not known, and as such, can't yet be a "statement" subject in a conversation.

Should you stop making your pendants or statement pieces that you love so much? Definitely not. Just, you know, diversify a bit. How?

It will take a bit of work, and you'll have to do it periodically, every month or at least every 6 weeks, because the market changes a bit.

First, establish your demographics by buying capability. With the internet being so in-depth informative nowadays, it's not hard to find out which age range of the population generally makes more money. Don't go for the higher income - you don't offer what they're looking for. Go for the average income, especially blue and white collar professions and customer service. They need to look pretty on a daily basis, and after paying all the bills, have some left over that they can funnel in that direction.

Then get the latest color and shape trends of the season. Get into a few forums that might discuss fashion and the latest trends. Start creating from there.

Let's say, this spring The New York Trend forecasting talks about these colors.

What about the patterns forecast for Spring 2018? Simple, there are several websites that can give you that. If you look HERE, you will notice that you can make a lot of those pattern trends easily in polymer clay. If you make your jewelry in tone with the trend, it will sell better.

Give it some thought. Then maybe you'll want to revamp your whole approach to selling jewelry online.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Book Review: "400 Polymer Clay Designs: A Collection of Dynamic & Colorful Contemporary Work "

This book is an absolute delight. Art piece after art piece, in the most diverse styles possible, in a way, it is also a history of polymer clay. Great names of the polymer clay art, from Nan Roche to Barbara McGuire to Kathleen Dustin to Sandra McCaw - and many many others - take you through a journey of inspiration and delight. Pieces made in imitative techniques, pieces inspired by the Art Nouveau or Art Deco movement or by the carvings of the neolithic man, alien looking plants by Jeff Denver, Kathleen Dustin's handbags, figurines, tables, decorative objects, canes like you've never thought a cane may look like before, exquisite jewelry - you will be hooked for hours.

A must have.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Book review - Polymer, the Chameleon Clay by Victoria Hughes

Polymer - The Chameleon Clay: ArtRanch Techniques for Re-creating the Look of Ivory, Jade, Turquoise, and Other Natural Materials

The absolute pioneer in imitative techniques, Victoria Hughes' book remains the ABC for all polymer clay artists. The techniques described in the book actually look better now than they looked over 15 years ago because of the changes in formulas in the various brands of polymer clay - the faux amber will look more translucent, the faux agate absolutely stunning, and the faux jade impossible to distinguish from real jade unless touched and weighed.

The first part of the book is a treasure of tips, tricks and advice - taking you from the very beginning, tools needed, how to condition your clay, to the finesse details of finishing and putting together your pieces. The second part has imitative techniques and a project for each of them. As a bonus, the book has many examples of artwork belonging not only to Victoria Hughes but to other artists as well.

Imitative techniques described in the book:

- Turquoise nugget beads
- Lapis-lazuli - still remains the basic technique for imitating this semi-precious gemstone - the only variances I've seen in present day tutorials are just mildly tweaking the color recipes used
- Coral - absolutely perfect
- Amber - try it with the Cernit translucent or Pardo translucent for stunningly realistic faux stones.
- Ivory - the project for this technique is beautiful
- Agate - still one of the best methods out there, I have seen many tutorials that are inspired from it but very few get to her mastery
- Metals and Faience - gorgeous projects

The book ends with another series of projects for an intermediate level of mastery. All gorgeous.
A must have.

The book can be find used for a very affordable price.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Long time no see, lots of things happened

Well, it's long time since I last posted. On top of trying hard to catch up with the tutorials, pieces that need finished, writing articles for the website and filling it up with content, as well as taking photos of pieces of jewelry and uploading them to the online store, I had unexpected health issues to deal with, this time not mine, but my furbabies.

First Whisper woke up one morning with half of his face swollen. Couldn't get in to see the vet until 2 pm (the vet was not there, was gone to a dr. appointment for himself). then once we got there, they ran the routine blood test and some values came up unusual so they asked me if they could run some additional tests. To make a long story short, his liver enzymes came up 3-4 times higher than normal. So there's a suspicion of either Cushing's or liver cancer. They gave him a "shock" shot of antibiotics and we got antibiotics for home too. I won't be able to know what is going on exactly until I have the money to run the test that would rule "in" or "out" Cushing's. I don't want to go liver biopsy way not just for the expense but also for the stress it would put on him - that, and the fact that there is the risk that, if it's cancer, it may be "seeded" by the biopsy needle.
Since then, his swelling came down completely. After extensive research, I switched him (gradually) to mostly raw food and started to give him Melatonin and ordered online some lignans (one of my neighbors gave me the money for it). If it's Cushing's I don't want to give him the meds they have, not just that they're very expensive but the side effects are very serious and they make the dogs' lives miserable. I read quite a few materials (including studies done by accredited reputable establishments) that show that switching to a raw diet combined with natural supplements not only has proven to control Cushing's but in a few cases it actually cured it. Whisper is 11, so he can be considered a senior dog - even if he doesn't look like it - so I don't dream about ccuring it but if it can be controlled I'll be thrilled.
He seems to be doing really well now. He even played, he sleeps, he enjoys his new diet. He refuses now to eat most of the things he used to love - like carrots and yogurt - but he finally ate chicken soup and a few peanuts.

Then Conor started sneezing Thursday. I thought it was just allergies but then it got worse, and he started just not being himself. Quite lethargic, with a runny nose. He spent Friday on the loveseat, sleeping, and Friday night too, no roaming and running around the house at night as is his habit. He seems to be just a tad better right now, he actually came to me last evening and slept on my chest, and in the afternoon he joined me in the craft room as is his habit whenever I work there. His nose is still runny, but clear runny, he had at one point teary eyes (also clear) but now his eyes are not teary and the third eye-lid that was raised yesterday seems to have gone down to normal again. I will try giving him a puff of Flonase sometime later today.

I am posting updates (including videos) on the Kalyana facebook page about them.

So these are the bad news. I am working on making a "destash" video, right now working on separating and making "stashes". I intended to do that in a couple of weeks but I decided to do it sooner just in case I need to rush Conor to the vet - it's the end of the month and after Whisper's vet visit I really have no money, got $21 in the bank right now and still got the gas bill to go through (it's really small) so I got about $12 to spend - definitely not enough for a vet visit.

One good news in all of this. Finally, after working for three days to get things exactly the way they want them in terms of file format, presentation, etc, the malachite tutorial is up on Amazon, and you can get it. I am posting the link below.

Stop feeling guilty for the mess - you're an artist!

Something that I have noticed since I was a teen (and that was a subject of contention between me and Mom).  Super organization, tidy dr...