Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I Love Glass

from C.N.Y Glass Studio designed by Jacquelyn Rice

After a two day introduction to lampworking I’m convinced that glass is the medium for me. Plans are underway to install a glass studio. Well, the plans are being constructed in my mind. I’m still wrestling with a few minor details. Where will I get an extra $1000 for a good kiln? How will I install decent ventilation? And should I leap right into borosilicates? Other than working out a few details, myAngelWings by Lynn Nurge of LaffingGull mind is made up. :)

I’ve had a fascination with glass all my life. I remember mom taking me to a glass blowing studio, and because I was tiny and fearless I was yelled at about staying away from the furnace. But I was so fascinated with the molten glass and what the glass blower could accomplish.

As I grew, I developed an appreciation for mom’s millefiori paperweight collection. Later I fell in love with LaLique, blown glass figurines and even swarovski. I like crystals too (both natural and synthetic) and one of the first things I purchased when I returned to jewelry making after a 30 year hiatus was showy high quality glass beads.

In retrospect, it's no wonder that I have a glass collection of my own: paperweights, figurines, unique fobs and focals - mostly items either I chose while vacationing or little pretties gifted to me from David. He's such a dearheart to me. In fact, in my jewelry chest I have an assortment of eclectic pieces (my designs and purchased) which incorporate glass withMy Design - Swiss Blue Topaz, Lemon Topaz, Boro beads, Smokey Quartz all other media.

Recently I’ve fallen in love with boro beads – those wonderfully complex and colourful hard glass creations that have become so popular of late. I’ve purchased borosilicate beads from several renowned artists – and these pretties look fabulous when mixed with precious gemstones. Above is featured a set of borosilicate beads made by Jacquelyn Rice of C.N.Y Glass studio of Boonsville, NY.

I incorporated Jacquelyn's pretties (which remind me of an intergallactic monsoon) into the luxe gemstone bracelet shown here which I designed for myself. These photographs underline the many faces of boro beads - their dramatic and intense hues as highlighted in the opening picture and their more subtle faces in varying lighting - as seen below combined with Swiss Blue Topaz faceted nuggets, Lemon Topaz, Citrine, Smokey Topaz and plenty of silver.

This post will be the first in an ongoing series of articles exploring my quest to design borosilicate bead ornaments which will complement and enhance my gemstone creations. I'll discuss my boro bead buying experiences, my favourite boro artists, available online storefronts, informational resources, borosilicate bead making courses, lampwork bead making, lampworking courses, lampwork versus boro, etc. Stay tuned... there's lots more to come!

Friday, July 18, 2008

a new slideshow

Watching this I realize just how much effort and time I've invested in honing my craft this past ten months. Wow, even I'm thinking "what a weird mixture of styles, materials and techniques!". Yet it was time well spent. And each session once I gather my thoughts to develop something "new" and fresh it appears I learn something new and fresh as well.

In fact, when it comes to creative motivation, I admit rather shamefully that what gets me back to the bench is without a doubt the opportunity to either work with something brand new or to work in a brand new way - with a new technique.

I call this curse a penchant for self actualization. I'm like this with many things - never satisfied with what's been done, always looking to better it. With artisan handmade jewellery this curse has significant consequences. I now have a studio overflowing with materials I no longer appreciate and cases of unsold jewelry that in hindsight I'm not crazy about.

One thing is certain - I read way too many jewelry related publications. And wonderful though these reference materials may be, and yes, from them the inspiration just floods in upon me in waves, my efforts are scattered. The broad collection of goodies showcased in this slideshow underscore my point that I'm still finding my way. And like my own tastes in jewelry, my designs are all over the map. But how does one carve her own path?

With the exception of a small handful of visionaries, there's always a hint of replica in what artists produce and my jewellery is no exception. But I'd like to think that my pieces are drizzled with a unique flavour that's purely 'Anna Lee'. Hopefully through plenty more practice, more honing my craft, more education, more interaction within the artistic community etc. I'll find my calling.

But when my own 'style' emerges there'll most likely be two moons in the sky. And on that day perhaps just maybe I'll know what I want to be when I grow up.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Power of Flickr

If you follow my SassyDLite blog, you know that I took time a few days ago to dabble with a YouTube montage of my Spring 2008 collection. I had just finished posting on our group forum that I had no time to delve into the intricacies of YouTube, when I decided to hit the One True Media link that Elayne from ChezChani boutique had featured.

Well, I honestly didn't intend to play with a montage the other day, but for techno geeks these little toys are irresistable. Within minutes, literally, my montage was ready. You see, I already had an old Flickr account loaded with lots of fairly good pics from the Fall'07 and Spring '08 collections. OneTrueMedia allows you to access your Flickr albums with one click et voila, loads of stills to add to a personalized slideshow or montage (again with one click). I actually spent more time pouring through OneTrueMedia's online library of music than I did making the montage.

What's all the buzz about Flickr anyhow? Well, Flickr is an online picture storage facility that allows you to upload and store in collections and sets all the photos you could ever want to share online.

Once your pics are uploaded, you can share with family or friends, blog about them (one click), send them to groups (free online promotion) , organize them into relevant collections, etc. and of course you always have convenient access to your photos for adding them to sites, blogs or email even when you're not at your desk.

But Flickr is much more than an online photo storage facility. Flickr is compatible with and feeds into several critical online promotion venues like Blogger, Squidoo and HubPages for example. So a Flickr album is the starting point of a sound social marketing effort. We'll discuss these advanced promo venues later...

Getting back to Flickr - I joined roughly a dozen or so Flickr groups. These aren't groups that I socialize or chat with much. They're groups of photos for viewing:

I Made it Myself (10,404 members)
NEW CRAFT (4,714 members)
NEW love (6,460 members)
NEW Handmade Jewelry (2,867 members)
NEW Etsy - Look and Learn (3,522 members)
NEW indie designers ::: (975 members)
NEW Etsy Artists Rule: 1 Million Picture Pool (1,415 members)
NEW Metalicious (353 members)
etsyBEAD (207 members)
Jewelry, Ornaments & Textiles (3,358 members) (462 members)
Beautiful Copper (191 members)
Etsy Supplies (525 members)
Earrings (1,122 members)
Art You Wear (319 members)

But each group will accept your membership request and they all have discussion threads where we can promote ourselves and eSMArts!

And to promote handmade art via etsy it is recommended that photos of new work be uploaded to Flickr on a regular basis (daily if you can). I don't have time for daily uploads to Flickr. If I had an assistant that might be possible, but right now I'm solo.

So when I remember to do it, I try to upload a few pictures of my nicer work to my Flickr album. Then I just copy the pics to a few jewelry, handmade, etsy or craft photo pools. The big photo pools have limits like 2 pics per day, but the important thing here is to develop your own routine, your personalized online promotion checklist.

I found it useful to keep a chart of all my login IDs and passwords hanging above my computer screen. I've organized these venues in the order that I usually attack them in.

Everyone agrees that great pictures really help in the online selling of handmade artwork, so strive to steadily improve this facet of your online presence. Each week, I try new photo techniques, better backgrounds, different angles, lighting & surfaces, etc.

I heard about Flickr through reading etsy discussion threads. I learned about the Flickr jewelry and craft photo pools again from the etsy forums. And you know what? Practically all the jewelry for which I uploaded images to Flickr last fall has sold. I don't think this is a coincidence. Someone asked me the other day what online promotion technique works best for me, and I should likely have said Flickr!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Flickr group photo pool for eSMArts team

Just a very brief post today about our new Flickr group photo pool for the etsy Social Marketing Artisan team.

Pop over to Flickr to view the gallery of unique handmade artwork from our talented group of artisans.

Member note: please feel free to upload your best pics to this group pool but remember the limit is only 5 pics per day.