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!
If you are a lover of art and unique works, you can usually find it locally. Local artists are in every corner of the world and love to help support their communities through their work. Every time a local artist makes a sale it helps the community in which you and they live by keeping funds in the community. So next time you are looking for something unique and wonderful look no further than your own local area. I am going to provide you with a list of five great places to buy local art and what to ask and look for to make sure it is truly local work.
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!
So your at an artisan show and you have your booth set up beautifully, each piece displayed perfectly. You have everything ready and you are so excited to see the visitors come in to see your work, and hopefully have a profitable and happy day. You see the crowd coming in through the gate and a few stop by and admire your work, it's going to be a fantastic day! But then it happens, you get one of those questions, you know the kind, the ones that make you cringe as you try to figure out how to respond and not sound unprofessional or irritated.
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 only 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 ten 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 you 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 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 professionally and respectfully 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 in 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. Or consider hosting a fundraiser with the artist who donates a portion of every sale during the event to you. This not only gives you organization press but also gives the artist press for an event in the community. We are truly happy to help.
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?
I get asked quite often, "how do you come up with your design ideas?" Well that can be a very complicated question, since I get them from so many places. You can get design ideas just from getting out and seeing the world around you with a different perspective, visit a museum of any sort and look at the natural world with a quiet mind. You will be amazed at how suddenly you see how the vine of a grape trellis gently winds around the frame, how the colors of a birds feathers combined into something magnificent, and how the sound of a child's laughter creates a chime like music. All these things can be somehow incorporate into your own designs.
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 a self taught jewelry artist and designer. My blog is the door to all the new things I learn, the stones I use and love, the pieces I created and the events I participate in as well as my thoughts and ramblings along this journey. I hope you enjoy the ride with me.