Sunday, April 25, 2010

What is Jansjems Becoming??

We celebrated our group presence at the Sustainability Festival in Amherst with a group photo of "almost" everyone. Zoe and Katie were still busy selling when this was shot.

Aviva and Karen shared a tent.
We were next to Helen of Thimbletopand across from Nicole's lovely paintings.

And Lou's Upcycles, who seems to be everywhere lately, was just a few booths away.

Not knowing what or whether people would buy, I brought primarily steampunk--eco-friendly jewelry for the eco-savvy. We still attract people who are surprised at what we do with broken watch parts, a few beads, skeleton keys and wire. I, of course, think the jewelry is not only unique and artistic but wearable. It was nice to find so many customers who agreed.

However, the popularity of this genre of jewelry is causing me to have an identity crisis. I'm looking for my niche.
Am I the genuine gemstone and precious metal jewelry designer? Yes.
Am I the creator of precious metal clay pendants? Yes.
Am I an alternative art, wearable collages, steampunk artist? I was this past weekend.
And I love them all.
Can I have several niches without looking like I don't know who I am?

The goal line doesn't just keep moving, it keeps changing directions.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wearable Collages

I'm getting excited about this year's lineup of craft shows. I managed to get into 2 that didn't accept me last year. I'm also trying a few new ones based on personal visits or reviews from other artisans. Getting into some of these craft shows can be an ordeal. You need stand out pictures, essays, and artists' statements. And when the jewelry category has more competition than any other and fills up first, you need to think out of the box.

So this year I sent pictures of my steampunk pieces. Every show has a group of jewelers who create with gemstones and wire and we all get lumped together even when our styles are very different. Steampunk (or "wearable collages" for the higher end shows) doesn't have as much competition. It's still a novelty to many people outside the metropolitan areas. And although I started creating jewelry from recycled found objects on a whim, I find that it's been useful to have 2 very different styles of jewelry at 2 different price points, AND pictures of a more unique style of jewelry for the craft show applications.

So if you enjoy shopping for handmade, check out some of the shows I've listed over in the left column. None are very far away and they all will have large numbers of very talented artisans.
And if you do, stop by and say "hi".

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Moving Along

I seem to be writing more about jewelry than about the library these days. I guess it's a sign that I'm already moving on. Despite the lovely view outside our office, from windows I waited 37 years for, it's really not enough anymore. The library renovation is moving along too, finally. They've been talking about this for what seems like 8-10 years. Progress is slow in the state of Massachusetts.

So we had a meeting in what used to be the Acquisitions Dept. It's now bright and clean and freshly painted. It will be classroom space, I think, that we can also use for all staff meetings. They've divided it up into smaller spaces as well for Interlibrary Loan and the Mail Room. I hope they can eventually control the temperatures in there as it's pretty hot right now.

The meeting we had yesterday was an explanation of the next phase of the renovation--the elevators. This is major as there has occasionally been some safety concerns and they are long overdue to be replaced. This project is estimated to take 2 1/2 years as a little asbestos and some PCBs have to be removed first. One more reason why it's a good time to be moving on.

And as I headed home at 3pm today, I wondered if the tunnel (the back exit for many of us) will ever be renovated...or maybe just cleaned.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The craft fair season is just beginning for me. I don't usually do any spring shows at all, but this year I'll be at the Sustainability Festival in Amherst with a large group of AWM members. As the festival is all about meeting society’s needs without compromising the the planet, Lou's Upcycles should be a big hit. She creates useful totes, cosmetic bags, and lunch boxes out of potato chip bags and those we all get at Walmart & Big Y.

I'll be bringing mostly the jewelry we create from recycled vintage skeleton keys, watch parts, old jewelry and hardware. It's guilt free, eco-friendly, jewelry that's attractive and affordable.

Hope to see you all there on April 24.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

New Designs

Had an Easter visit from my youngest daughter who's been working on some new, lighter, brighter pieces for the summer.

Slices of dyed mother-of-pearl make for very modern looking jewelry and she is particularly good at putting together interesting color combinations and designs.

I've already started putting up some earrings on both the Etsy shop and 1000 Markets. More to follow.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Turquoise? Really???

There's a forum thread on Etsy about misnamed stones that has been going on for weeks. People there cite interesting examples of creative naming of stones to make them more desirable. Many are man made, others are unnatural looking treated genuine stones. At gem shows I often run into dealers selling "strawberry" quartz or "pineapple" quartz. These fruity gems are usually manufactured stones.

As far as turquoise goes, if it's not blue or blue/green you can't call it turquoise.
So when a dealer at a recent show told me the beads in this picture were "turquoise", I almost choked. Manufacturers have gotten very creative with the use of poor grade or reconstituted powdered turquoise. Howlite, a soft white stone, has also been dyed and used as a substitute for turquoise. So we now find people selling "pink" turquoise, white or buffalo turquoise, lime green turquoise, purple turquoise, etc. I had never seen this particular species and it came in 3 or 4 color combinations.

I did buy some very nice drilled turquoise focal beads at this show. The real deal from a mine in the southwest U.S. I also bought some "stabilized" turquoise beads. How do you know when you have the real deal? Price is a pretty good indicator. A $3 strand of beads is probably reconstituted or dyed something.
As for the beads above... Well, they're going to look very nice combined with some "strawberry" quartz for a piece in my more economical line of jewelry. But what do I call them in my online description?