Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A Fellow Artist Needs Your Help!

A friend of mine alerted me to the legal plight of a fellow artist. You may have seen these incredibly cool fire-pit metal sculptures on 1000 Markets or Etsy. They are the work of John T. Unger, an extremely talented artist and designer.

Turns out, there is an unscrupulous individual, who has sued John so that this individual can continue to manufacture and sell knock-offs of John's copyrighted designs! In order to maintain hsi legal copyright, John has to defend himself in court, which, as you can guess, costs an enormous amount of money. You can read all about the details, and how you can support John, at his website.

What made me so furious about this case? I am frankly tired of all of the unethical scumbags out there looking to make a fast buck by copying artist created designs. With our economy in shambles, these people farm out manufacturing to third-world countries, and sell cheap copies. So what if they cost pennies on the dollar? Whenever you buy one of these copies, you are taking money out of a local US community, out of the pocket of an artist. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the "steal" you got at Wally World or Tar-get is called that, because you are stealing from the artist as much as the copier themselves.

John T. Unger has done what he needs to legally protect his work. He has made certain he has the legal copyright for his work. That he can be in this predicament should be a warning to all handmade artists and its supporters, that we need to be vigilant and resist the temptation to buy what's cheap--the next time, it may be us being sued.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Featured Artist: Jennifer of Jennifer Lynn Productions

I love photography of unusual objects. It takes a special eye to see the physical world and capture an object within that is spiritual and meaningful. When I visited Jennifer Lynn Productions' shop, I immediately saw a number of photos that captured my attention--I love her subject matter which runs from the mundane shown in a artistic way, to her graveyard scenes, which are full of emotion. In addition, Jennifer also makes mixed media art, jewelry & handbags.

What does it mean to you to "buy handmade"?
What it means to me is that the buyer and the artisan build a personal relationship. The buyer sees where his/her goodies come from, how they are made, how the materials are sourced. The artisan may share some of their techniques, or even the stories behind what they make. There is usually a relationship built between seller and buyer, and often the products are created in a sustainable way. You know no one is being exploited.

How long have you been active in your craft?

I have been artistic all of my life. I have been actively trying to sell what I make probably for close to ten years. I had another venture, with a friend, before I started my current business.

What inspires your work?

Lots of things inspire my work: colors, feelings, folklore/mythology, conversations, my dreams, even my family. Often, it's the materials that spark an idea for a certain piece. I'll see a piece of fabric for instance, and it will seem to tell me: "I need you to make me into a ..." It's very strange. I don't quite know how to explain it! LOL!

Where do you sell your creations?

http://jenniferlynnproductions.artfire.com , http://jlynnpro.etsy.com , http://jlynnpro.redbubble.com . I'm in the process of emptying the Etsy shop, but as long as I have items there, I will sell through it.

Are there any special accolades you have earned in your field?
I have, for two years in a row, won blue and red ribbons in a local arts show for both my photography and my mixed media pieces.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fire Divas Part III: Return to the Fire

I have more Fire Divas for you this weekend! The lovely lampwork ladies all love to play with fire--with awesome results! Remember, you can find out all about the Fire Divas on our blog!

Susan Sheehan: SusanSheehan
Frosted Lilacs

Susan has been lampworking for many years, ever since it convinced her to leave her photography behind.

Nicole Valentine-Rimmer: NValentineStudio
Barn Swallow

Nicole has been lampworking since 2003, and has been published in numerous publications.

Patty Lakinsmith: PattyLakinsmith
Humu Focal

Patty has been melting glass since 2002 and has developed a recognizable organic style.

D. Lynne Bowland: islandgirl
Searching for the Perfect Autumn

Lynne worked as a fiber artist for many years before becoming a glass artist in the late 1980s. She owns a seasonal gallery in New Brunswick, Canada.

Karen Klomparens: giapet
Turtle Bead Pair

Karen is addicted to melting glass, and holds it as one of her life's passions.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Featured Artist: Michelle of Creative Critters

This week's featured artist is another talented artist with clay. Michelle, of Creative Critters, creates these amazingly-detailed, small scale sculptures out of polymer clay.

What does it mean to you to "buy handmade"?
Buying handmade means purchasing something an individual created with their own hands, versus a mass produced item manufactured by a large corporation. When an individual makes something there is more pride involved, generally speaking. I certainly prefer to buy from fellow artisans whenever possible. So far I've never been disappointed with the products I've received.

How long have you been active in your craft?
Since I was old enough to sculpt Play-Doh! I really got serious about sculpting around the age of 22 or 23. I began buying all the how-to books I could find, and tried to learn as much as possible about the art. I keep some of my early projects around to remind myself just how far I've come over the last 10 years or so, as well as to remind myself that there are no limits to what I can achieve creatively. I began sewing my cloth dolls around the age of 29 or 30, after my friend gave me a "Make Your Own Waldorf Doll" kit. I don't use the name "Waldorf" on my dolls though, because I've created my own patterns and just used that original kit as a learning tool. As for the knitted animals, my friend taught me how to knit about 3 years ago. I've always loved stuffed animals, so when I found books with patterns for knitted stuffed toys, I was off and running! Of course, I've also adapted all those patterns and come up with completely new ones as my skills have progressed.

What inspires your work?
Fantasy, for one thing. If you look in my shop you'll find lots of fantasy sculptures, as well as my line of plush World of Warcraft characters. I also find a lot if inspiration in the natural world. I love plants, animals, and all sorts of wild places. I can find inspiration in just about anything, really. My imagination is a fertile playground, with new ideas sprouting up all the time!

Where do you sell your creations?
I sell my work at http://creativecritters.artfire.com, and I have a blog at http://creativecrittersblog.blogspot.com where I sometimes add more information about items for sale, projects I'm currently working on, and a variety of other topics.

Have you received any special accolades in your field?
Several of my pieces have been featured in Polymer Cafe Magazine including Scorch the Rockin' Dragon (Feb. 09) and my Miniature Log Cabin sculpture (Oct. 08). One of my handsewn cloth dolls was featured in Creative Home Arts magazine as well.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Featured Artist: Erin of ErinNicole Jewelry

One area I have always wanted to explore is fused glass. I love how one-of-a-kind pendants and jewelry can be created by layering & melting glass. This week's featured artist, Erin of ErinNicole Jewelry, has beautiful fused pieces that show how amazing fused glass can be. Not only is she a talented artist, she has also taught a number of jewelry design classes, all before graduating college!

What does it mean to you to "buy handmade"?
I think that "buying handmade" is all about supporting those that take the time to produce quality items themselves, as opposed to the mass-produced (and, often, poor quality) products that the market is becoming more and more saturated with. Buying handmade also means expressing your individuality and cultivating your own style. After all, no two completely handmade items are exactly alike, just as no two people as exactly alike.

How long have you been active in your craft?
I have been creating metal-worked jewelry for about 5 years. I learned how to incorporate glass techniques into my jewelry almost 4 years ago. It's amazing how the two complement each other!

What inspires your work?
Creating things has always been a passion of mine, even before I started making jewelry. I am definitely inspired by modern art. I love clean lines and vibrant colors. I also love taking ancient techniques, and bringing them into the modern era. My buyers are always surprised to hear when the ultra-modern piece they've selected was created with centuries-old methods. Of course, I also thoroughly enjoy playing with the newest techniques. In this way, technology serves as another major inspiration for me. I think that a lot of buyers aren't aware of the "science" of jewelry-making; countless innovations and chemical processes come into play, all serving as tools that can be used in a variety of ways. Coefficients of expansion, devitrification, melting points, annealing temperatures--there are so many things for every glass and metal jewelry artist to consider.

Where do you sell your creations?
I sell my jewelry in a variety of places. Currently, I am participating in the Colorado Farm & Art Market in Colorado Springs. This is taking place every Wednesday through October from 3-7pm at America the Beautiful Park. I have also just opened up a new online store at http://ErinNicole.artfire.com .

Have you earned any special accolades in your field?
As far as accolades go, I have won some prizes in local competitions, and would like to apply for more prestigious awards as time goes on. Right now, I have just recently graduated college and am still getting my ducks in a row!

Monday, August 17, 2009

United by Unusual Circumstances

Usually, being a handmade artisan has a lot of perks; you are your own boss, you get to do something you love, and you get to meet a lot of great people who appreciate your work. Every once in a while you meet a bad apple, but they don't ruin the whole bunch.

Recently, however, the online artisan community has been targeted by an individual who has taken it upon themselves to falsely accuse many artisans of fraud; which is ironic seeing as how this individual had their etsy shop closed last year for fraudulent selling. (See the links to the right for more information) And as anyone who has worked with etsy knows, they will not close down a shop unless they have had proof.

Suddenly a great number of artisans, some of whom spoke out when this individual raised their head again on handmade sites, find themselves joined in a unique sister-hood (well now there are some brothers). The ironic part is, among her targets, I have found a lot of great handmade artisans that I might not have known about otherwise. For example, Lydia Muell of Ashton Jewels, who I featured recently, has been a target! Below are just a handful of the great artisans and their work!

Seller: cctexan3
Handcrafted lampwork & gemstone jewelry
Green Lampwork Charm Bracelet

Seller: JavaBead
Artisan jewelry & boro lampwork beads
Cherry Blossoms Lampwork Bracelet

Seller: betsymn
Handmade lampwork beads
Fire Opal Owl Eyes

Seller: Goatmountainarts
Soaps, fiber arts & more!
Handmade Goat's Milk Soap

Seller: Acelticgirl2
Handmade gemstone jewelry
Green Onyx Rice Pearls Sterling Earrings

Seller: LenorasDesigns
Handmade Lampwork Beads
Lampwork Focal Pendant

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Featured Artist: Linda of Buttonwilloe

My first thought when I saw this week's featured artist was that her work couldn't possibly be handmade! But no, it is just years of experience that allows Linda of Buttonwilloe to make incredible hand-sculpted figures out of clay. I am truly amazed at her talent and skill, which is why I am happy to have her as a featured artist!

What does it mean to you to "buy handmade"?
To me, it means someone has put their time, love and part of themselves into creating something very special. When an artist creates an original design, I like the term "heartmade", because original designs are often an extension of who we are and sometimes reflect our personality and lifestyle.

How long have you been active in your craft?
I started sculpting little figures and giving them as gifts when I got married in 1972. Early in the 1980's, I sold at my very first craft show in a friend's home.

What inspires your work?
The sweet face of a little baby. The purr of a kitten, and the happy tail of an excited puppy. Babies of any species in general...except creepy crawlies. I truly believe our talents and abilities are gifts from our loving God, and that we are all "precious in His sight." It's my hope that my little creations will bless your heart and make you smile.

Where do you sell your creations?
Since the early 1980's I've been selling at arts and crafts festivals in Southern California, where I live. You can check them out at www.sugarplumcrafts.com and www.Harvestfestival.com. I also do a craft fair in my hometown called Nutcracker Boutique. I sell online at www.buttonwilloe.artfire.com.

Are there any special accolades you have earned in your field?
In 2002, the Harvest Festival honored me with "best in show" at the Long Beach location. It was so exciting. The staff came to my booth, literally with bells and whistles, and presented me with a beautiful plaque that I have displayed in my booth ever since. I also received "most festive booth" and the "Heart of Sugar Plum" awards at Sugar Plum Festival. Last year Sugar Plum honored those of us who have been participating in their shows over 20 years. There were only six of us. It was a very sweet and memorable occasion.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Need to Cool Off? Cool Fun Finds!

Last week I featured the Dog Days of Summer, which finally decided to make an appearance in my neck of the woods. This week, I need to cool down! I have scoured Etsy to find handmade products that will bring the temperature down a notch!

Adorable Stephanie Snowperson by former featured artist, Nivenglassoriginals

This beautiful Winter Ice Bracelet by Opheliax

A Tasty Blue Slushie Pendant Necklace by SweetStella

Impossibly cute Kawaii Penguin Bottle Cap Pendant Necklace by craftyaddictions

A Cold Bear on Ice set of 4 coasters by Sybilinart

Friday, August 7, 2009

Red Hot Fire Divas Part II!

This is the second installment of my feature of the Fire Divas, a group that has come together through their love of lampworking! If you don't want to wait for *me* to present all of the Fire Divas, you can check out our blog and find links to our various online shops & personal blogs!

Holly Dare Hughes: HollysFollyGlass
Holly started out in television production and worked on The Carol Duvall Show, which is where her fascination with glass began.

Jessica Veda Jones: VedasBeads
Chunky Black Crystal Set
Jessica has been lampworking for several years, and just recently left her "day job" to pursue her passion full time.

Janel Dudley: Janeldudleybeads
Lampwork Frog Focal
Janel first started making lampwork beads in 1997, and has been going strong ever since!

Jamie Rose: GlasstasticTreasures
The Mummy Returns
Jamie has been creating her whimsical beads for over 3 years.

Melissa Villadiego: VillaDesigns
Gerbera Pendant
Melissa has been lampworking for over 5 years and has been published in numerous craft publications.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Featured Artist: Wendi G of Miz Darlin'

Meet Wendi G., our newest featured artist! A recent retiree who has moved onto her dream island and on to becoming a full-time crafter, she creates beautiful hand-crocheted hats and neck warmers from non-sheep's wool: no allergies or shrinkage! She sells her creations as Miz Darlin' and her hats are all one-of-a-kind and come in all sizes, from baby, to extra large.

What does it mean to you to "buy handmade"?
'Buy handmade' is the way I try, as much as humanly possible, to live my life. It is a philosophy to me, not merely a slogan. I try to support myself creating and selling handmade goods, and I buy handmade goods whenever I can, by preference, for their superior quality and price, and the added bonus of helping others to support themselves this way. Anyone who spends any time creating and selling in any venue that is amiable to handmade, will find that it becomes a lifestyle rather than a random choice.

How long have you been active in your craft?
I have been creating since I was a small child, and always restlessly searching for whatever I can put my hand to regarding creativity--I love learning new disciplines and perfecting old ones. I have been actively crafting and selling my work for over 30 years.

What inspires your work?
My inspirations are boundless--but usually it starts with the natural world. I love doing representations of natural things or using natural elements in my work; for example, wood, or freshwater pearls. I also enjoy using elements made by others, to re-purpose or recycle parts and create new things. I am also terribly weak when it comes to texture and color--I can go wild with yarn buying, because I find a new color, texture or type of material, and I discover I cannot continue to live without acquiring it and working up something new. And let's not talk about my exotic bead addiction...

Where do you sell your creations?
I am currently selling on two online venues, Artfire and Etsy, and my blog, Ms. Exile in Paradise, has links to both these online shopping sites.. I also sell at a local weekly Farmer's Market and several craft fairs throughout the year.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Dog Days of Summer Fun Finds

Where I live, it is finally summer! We one of the coldest July's on record, but August has been nice and hot! So to celebrate the dog days finally showing up, here are some of my favorite handmade dog finds!

Puppy Yawns, an adorable Limited Edition print from Michelle Pullman

Golden Retriever Table from Jeffrey Pohan

Cuter than cute Pointer Dog Earrings from Mark Poulin

Mini Custom Needle Felted Puppy by Emilie Friday; pick your breed!

For your little one, this Puppy Hooded Towel by Tulips & Daisys

A Fused Glass Whimsical Dog by Enid Traisman

An Ergonomically Designed Pet Feeder by Woodin' You

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Meet the Red Hot Fire Divas

Welcome of my first installment of "Meet the Fire Divas." The Fire Divas are a group of lampwork artists who have come together to support, promote and inspire one another. We "met" on a forum for lampwork artists, and the rest is history! When you buy from a Fire Diva, you can be assured that you are buying from an actual artist, not some re-seller trying to pawn off factory-made lampwork as artisan-made!

This week I am showing off the work of five of our Divas: Cindy Haberman, Melissa Vess, Lara Lutrick, Lea Avroch, & Angela Kane. Next to each picture you will find the Divas name, their Etsy user name, the name of the bead pictured, and a short bio!

You can also find links to all of the Divas by visiting our blog.

Cindy Haberman: Cindylynne Glass
Lampwork Glass "Balloonimal"
Cindy started out trying glass fusing but quickly found her passion in lampworking. That was three years ago, though she has loved glass since childhood.

Melissa Vess; Melissabeads
Ice Blue Silver Nuggets
Melissa has been working with hot glass for over 4 years, and has a degree from the Art Institute of Colorado.

Lara Lutrick: Lutrick
Rainbow Bicone
Lara has been making jewelry & lampwork beads for over 10 years in her Seattle studio.

Lea Avroch: LAJewlery Designs
Purple Majesty
Lea has been making lampwork beads for several years. Her work has been published in several magazines, including Bead & Button & Belle Armoire

Angela Kane: Blue Lagoon Beads
Inside the Raindrop
Angela has been making lampwork beads for a number of years in both soft and borosilicate glass.