Winterfest: Arts & Trolley Tour

picking up enamelsCome join over 145 artists (including me!) this upcoming weekend!  I’ll be demonstrating my glass bead making with my torch among other wonderful artists to visit!

February 18 & 19, 2017, Sautee Nacoochee Cultural Center is partnering with Unicoi State Park & Lodge and Helen Arts & Heritage Center for its inaugural WinterFest: Arts & Trolley Tour. This festival will include 145 Artists over 2 Days in 3 Locations for 1 ticket price. The Festival hours on will be from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. both days.

When your multi-location ticket is stamped at all three venues, the you become eligible to enter a drawing for a special surprise package. This is a fundraiser for Sautee Nacoochee Community Association. The Sautee Nacoochee Cultural Center will sell additional raffle tickets for regional artists’ prizes. Come a day early and attend the Preview Party & Wine Tasting at the Sautee Nacoochee Cultural Center on Friday, February 17 at 6pm.

Visit this link for more info:   http://www.unicoilodge.com/winterfest-2017/

Spring Collection

My Etsy shop is currently updated to include my new Spring collection pieces.  Just in time for Mother’s Day!

Feel free to share with friends and family.  My next show is May 21-22, 2016 at the Canton Festival of the Arts, Canton, GA.  Come and see me!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/reflections1?ref=hdr_shop_menu

 

 

It’s Been a While . . .

So, taking off a couple of months during winter has become longer than I anticipated.  I wondered what was happening?  I have a good supply of clay, lots of ideas sketched and loads of fun tools to work with.  Shouldn’t I be a little bit enthused to begin the new collection for this year?  Well?

And that’s where I am today–a definitive period of non-work because I believe I’m a little burned out.  Not in full flames, but just enough to be singed.  I know it happens (writer’s block, anyone?) but I just wish my passion was a little brighter by now.  I have been experiencing a few medical problems which have contributed to lack of energy and I’m sure my brain has taken on that same mentality.  Yep, I think I’ve become Eeyore!

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I had a fabulous show in February at Unicoi State Lodge and Park, and I’ve got another show coming up in about 2 weeks.  I think I need to get moving on the collection!  Especially since most of the previous collection sold in February!

So, here’s what I’ve learned, courtesy of mind tools.com:

“While there are many causes of burnout, people are more likely to experience it when they work in a physically or emotionally demanding role, or when their efforts at work don’t produce the results that they expected.

Symptoms of burnout include depression, hopelessness, feeling overwhelmed by responsibilities and using escapist behaviors to cope.

It’s important to make the effort to recover properly from burnout. To do this, try the following strategies.

  • Think about the “why.”
  • Focus on the basics.
  • Take a good vacation or a leave of absence.
  • Reassess your goals.
  • Say “no.”

Practice positive thinking.”

Good tips to try.  Let’s see how it goes.  In the meantime, here is a fabulous tip for wearing those lobster claw bracelets!

 

 

 

Winter Hiatus

My winter hiatus has come a bit early this year, as I didn’t book any shows for the late fall/Christmas season.  Ah well, my choice and now it is the time for updating my skills, continued learning, and participating more actively within my field.  Specifically for me, that is metal clay art.  A new group has organized that makes me very excited.  It’s called the IMPACT Artist Project and here’s their mission statement:

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“IMPACT Artist Project–The International Metal Clay Project Advancing Creativity & Talent is a non-profit Metal Clay arts community building and outreach program.  The mission of IMPACT and its philosophy stems from a generous attitude of giving and sharing which is overtly present in the Metal Clay arts community.  We have a developed a “team-like” program where IMPACT members, guilds, teachers, teaching facilities, and business work in conjunction to advance and strengthen the creativity, talent of its artists, and support healthy thriving businesses within our international Metal Clay community.”

What a great beginning to a form of organization and purpose.  I have often found that within the world of art, there are very few (beyond guilds)  standards, guidelines and professional guidance as one would see in a business setting.  I think that artists are underrepresented because they have no unifying voice.  I am thankful that the metal clay community is attempting to change that for our form of art.

I will continue to make this blog about my journey with metal clay and as a show circuit artist.  I love to share and teach and I hope that I will be more diligent is this task.  If you are a fellow metal clay artist, check out the website for IMPACT at http://www.impactartistproject.org and see how you can contribute or benefit from.

I am busy keeping my Etsy shop full for any Christmas shoppers and am also working on some custom pieces for Christmas gifts.  I love the challenge of custom work and hope that what I do pleases everyone involved.

Also, a task I don’t look forward to during winter hiatus, is the continued research and learning about upcoming shows and to schedule for 2016.  It starts early (as in right now) for many of the spring shows and even some fall and winter shows for 2016.

 

 

All about that Ribbon

Well, it’s been a long summer and as we head into Fall, there are thoughts I’d like to share, specifically about the show circuit.  My experience is pretty wide and pretty long when it comes to working on the show circuit–I’ve been active now for about 18 years and have attended many shows across the southeast.  Craft shows, Art shows, Art and Craft shows, indoor and outdoor, juried, non-juried–they’ve all been a part of my journey as an artist.  My niche is the Fine Art shows with judges and strict juries.  My work is quite unique and most of the time well appreciated in those circles.  I attended one such show this Fall with a judge and strict jury.  The quality of the show was fine and the expectation was given that the judge would visit each booth.  We were not guaranteed a conversation, but a least a look.  By the time the judging ended I realized the judge never even visited my booth.

Should that be a problem?  Should I feel neglected, or at least a little bit miffed that I was left out of his scrutiny?  Well, to say the least, I felt frustrated and a bit angry that I was treated with little professionalism.  Many of my experiences with judges is for them to pass me by since I’m “just another jewelry booth” which is far from the truth.  While I appear to be “just another jewelry booth” my work is most distinctive and there are very few metal clay artists let alone enamelists.

So, I casually asked the show director if the judging has ended.  My underlying purpose was to make sure the director knew that we had not been given the courtesy of a viewing from the judge.  I had also watched as the judge spent over 20 minutes in the neighboring booth from me.  She was insistent that he had indeed come by, but said she would bring him by again.  Well, she at least pointed my booth out to him as they stood across the street from me.  Yeah, I was watching.

That little stunt brought me even more frustration as the lack of integrity and fairness.  I have come to learn that many of these juried shows are done locally and have focused mostly on the local artists–a clique is already in force for the awards.  However, it was never as blatant as this was for me.

The results?  Yeah, the guy in the neighboring booth won Best of Show . . .hmmm, could be they were able to spend time with the judge and talk about their processes as an artist.  Obviously, my sense of professionalism kicked in and I was just done with this show.

It is disheartening when you work so passionately and put all your energy into your art and to be ignored.  While I’ve gotten used to the jewelry categories rarely winning any awards, I still think professional courtesy should never be ignored.  It is truly a level of respect for all artists.  Many promoters have a bad reputation because they are just selling real estate to fill their shows, but many of them show respect.  This show director didn’t know the meaning of respect during the judging portion.  Needless to say, I won’t be attending or recommending this show again.

Which is sad, because it was one of my least expensive shows to do.  But you can’t put a price on integrity.

There is still hope out there for my work to be recognized.  It has been awhile since I’ve had a ribbon but I also know that the awards I have earned in the past were legit and that my customers are my ultimate judge when they buy a piece.  And it is good to remember that I did win “Best of Show” in a juried art show where there were three judges scoring independently.  In fact, one of the judges shared with me that one of the reasons I won was because of my passion.  Many artists were pleased as jewelry rarely nabs the top spot.

Honesty, transparency and fairness are still out there–we just have to find the right shows for our work!

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New Directions?

One-of-a-kind or production work?  This is something I think every jewelry artist (and other artists) must consider at some point in their career.  For so long, my mentality has been that what I create is simply enough no matter what.  It makes is special and unique and certainly something my customers look for.  This is what keeps my “art cred” in check.  I have validity as an artist because no one else can do what I do.  In fact, working with metal clay keeps my focus very centered on how my hands and the clay and my brain interact.  And then, something fabulous happens and a piece is born!

Except, that there are many, many other jewelry artists that have been successful because they’ve been able to produce quantities of their work.  In one way or another.  In fact, many jewelry artists call this their “bread and butter” work to keep their business afloat.  Not a bad idea, but doesn’t this take away from the unique perspective of my work?

A friend of mine said it very well.  “Robin, production is where the money is. I remember getting very upset years ago when someone told me my husband was a production worker, not an artist. He’s an artist who’s able to do production so he can afford to do the art . . .”  Wise words from a good friend.  Even when we do a production piece each piece is still uniquely made and by our hands.  Some jewelry artists actually send their castings or designs to a mass producer.  I don’t think that’s something that works for me.

So, the question then becomes, what becomes a production piece?  After reading and researching and digging through all kinds of jewelry sites and forums, I believe that for me, the right answer to that question is to design a separate themed line of work that I can easily reproduce in my studio yet keeping each piece still my handmade process.

Now the fun begins.  While this won’t redefine my entire body of work, it will allow me to experiment and see how production can work with this separate line.  I’ve already created my concept and am working on some prototypes.  My hope is that this design will be something that I can translate into different pieces of work from necklaces and bracelets to earrings and charms.  The presentation of my design will be unique and maybe there will be “limited editions” of a piece.  Right now, my creative juices are flowing and as I develop my technique with this new design, I’m sure I’ll make changes along the way.

The question will always be there–unique v. production . . .but I think that one can do both if done with the main concept of “handmade” in mind.  We’ll see what happens!

Is it Worth it?

It’s been quite a while since my last blog which is another indicator of a very slow season for me.  While i had a great spring run of shows, the summer has proven the opposite.  Despite receiving strong and favorable feedback from all the visits during my shows, very few actually bought.  This ended up being the case for many of the artists at each show.  Seems like this summer was more entertainment for folks, then serious buying.  In this business of the traveling artist, you must be prepared not only for all sorts of weather, but also lack of sales.

No sales?  Three sales?  These are certainly things I’ve said incredulously while working a 2 or 3 day show.  Wow, who would’ve imagined that after all this work, you only had three sales!  This is where the rubber meets the road.  In other words, as an artist on the show circuit, you MUST enjoy the work.  You MUST enjoy the people.  Making a profit and a living from this work, is incredibly hard.  Especially when you do only one-of-a-kind pieces.  So, I tell folks that I love putting my pieces out there for the public to see and hopefully buy.  I love interacting with lots of interesting people and telling my story of my art and my processes.  I love being outside (inside shows are harder for me!) and I love meeting the weather challenges (or the lighting challenges of an inside show).

What about that profit?  Aren’t you at a show to sell?  Isn’t that the point?

Yes, it is.  But sometimes you are humbled and you are there maybe to do something else.  These shows I record as my “marketing” shows.  I’ve marketed myself, my work and my pieces.  I’ve exchanged my business card, my art statement and my website.  I’ve shared my life with fellow artists and spent time with my husband–which we rarely have.  So, there is purpose in what I do.  It just doesn’t always look like a profit.  That is what I hold onto when the shows run dry.  This summer there was a drought!

Officially, the fall season starts after Labor Day.  September and October hold promise as we enter this next season of shows.  It is easy to second-guess your show decisions and your choices.  But, as a professional, I have to stay committed to the schedule and to the show and work hard and hope hard.  Ultimately, this business for me is so much more than just a profit.  It is about the people, the art and the process.  It is about the strength God gives me . . the promise of His provision and the active use of my faith.

Sometimes droughts can bring great fruit once the rain begins again.  Sometimes you have to re-evaluate the direction you’re in and discover if there are options you haven’t explored before.  Thus, begins my next journey and development as an artist trying to make this a serious business.