Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting Braver with New Designs in Silver Clay

September has been a pretty good month for Jansjems.  Considering that sales were down in the shows we did earlier in the year, it was a pleasant surprise to see that people are not only buying, they are buying my more important pieces.

I've talked about how much I enjoy working with Art Clay Silver.  But silver can be pricey so for the past 2 years we've been creating moderately priced pendants and earrings.  Recently I took the plunge and made a few larger pendants and strung them on strands of gemstones.  These are the reason I started working with silver clay in the first place.  Given the economy that could've been a really bad idea.  I am happy to report, however, that in the last 2 shows I sold 3 of these larger pieces and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the trend continues.

I've been reading a lot and watching online videos of techniques.  Learning on your own can be expensive if you make too many mistakes.  And I've had a few.  But I feel so good when something works.  So what's so special about silver clay?

The possibilities are endless.  Here are just a few designs that inspire me to keep working on my technique. I did manage to take a couple of classes with Lis-el Crowley.  She teaches out of her gallery in Windsor, Ct. and makes pieces like this one below.

In one of the books that I have there are instructions on how to create Gordon Uyeha's very organic "Forest Spirit" hollow form.  I'm not quire ready for this one yet.  Maybe someday.

And I have admired for years the work of Liz Hall who combines silver clay
with polymer clay for incredible pieces that look like this.

I have a long way to go and lot to learn.  But the journey is so much fun.

Monday, September 19, 2011

StART on the Street

One of the pieces of information an artisan needs when deciding to which arts and crafts shows he/she will apply is traffic.  The estimated number of people who attended in the past tells us if the show is established, well advertised, and popular.  Unfortunately that information is not always available. Occasionally I find a website for a show that actually has pictures of people in the aisles and shopping (and not just their volunteers manning the donations table).  When I can't get numbers, these pictures sometimes prompt me to give the show a try.

StART on the Street just had it's eighth show yesterday.  They have no problem advertising that they get over 200 vendors and attract over 20,000 people.  That's what I want to hear.  When I can't get that information, this is what I want to see.

This show takes place on Park Avenue in Worcester.  It begins at 11am and somewhere between 12 & 1pm this mass of people arrives making getting from one booth to the next a bit of a challenge.  At times we had so many people in the booth I could've used a third person.

The variety of arts and crafts runs from the truly funky and kitchy to high end and polished.  You can buy a skarf made from recycled t-shirts or fine art.  But StART isn't just a craft show.

  Throughout the day they have a variety of musicians performing, dancers, performance art,  mimes, and even a poetry reading stage this year.  There's a section dedicated to keeping children entertained.

And I can't leave out the Chinese dragon who made an appearance.

This is a fun show.   It's loud, it's crowded, it's full of the unusual and the unexpected.  You should try to get there next year.

For artisans who want more detailed information, go to my review section.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Old Deerfield Fall Craft Show

We're heading out to Worcester tomorrow for the annual StArt on the Street that takes over a portion of Park Avenue.  It's big, it's loud, and it draws around 20,000 people.  We decided to go back to Worcester after taking a break last year to sell at the Old Deerfield Fall Craft Show.  But I visited this year's show with a friend just to see if the people who told me last year they weren't going to return, really didn't return.  And they didn't.

While even the fall show, the biggest and best attended of the 4 they sponsor, didn't have all the spaces filled, I was happy to see some new artisans at the show.  Tina's Baskets is not your traditional basket.  She came with basketry art.  Even her actual baskets were unique yet usable.

Liz Blanchflower came with her handcrafted sterling silver designs and unique French knot cord necklaces.

Lou Rudinski, woodturner, came all the way from Maryland to set up a tent with beautiful wooden bowls.

I had a laugh looking at the Art of Conni Togel.  It's all about sheep and they are wonderful!  This one is called "Big Horn Sheep".

I hope these new vendors did well so that they'll return.  Having attended this craft show as a patron for years, I always like to see new artisans.

Gotta run and pack up the car for Worcester.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ahhh. Mattoon Street

A neighborhood of historic brownstones, brick sidewalks, and old trees.  The perfect setting for a September craft show and another successful Mattoon St. Festival. And unlike some shows that are losing their popularity both with vendors and customers, Mattoon St. seems to be growing.  They hosted 100 vendors this year.  That may be a record.  And I really think the traffic increased as well.  Of course it helps to have good weather.

We showed up with both our steampunk and fine silver jewelry this year.  There are several other jewelers with beaded designs so I left those at home.  I was happy to see that our silver was almost as popular as the steampunk and I saw a couple of my newest pieces go to good homes.  It's really bitter sweet when a piece I've put a lot of time and effort into gets sold.  I tend to get attached.  Well, I can only hope my customers love wearing them as much as I loved making them.

I've talked so much about this particular show that a few of my fellow AWM members applied this year.  And I was pleased when they also reported having a good weekend.  

Awards are given out for first, second and third place in a variety of categories--fine art, jewelry, glass, etc.  This year Jansjems came in second in the jewelry category, losing first place to my good friend
Kathleen Anderson and her polymer clay jewelry.
And then there are the roving musicians.  From a harpist to a lady's barbershop quartet they have something for everyone.  The accordionist and clarinetist got together at one point and even played a couple of polkas. And, no, I didn't request them.

The Mattoon St. Association makes a real effort to make you feel comfortable.  Bob McCarroll is on site both days in case you need anything.  They allow set up on Friday night which I just love.  On Saturday morning I'm cool and calm and not all sweaty from setting up the tent.  The food court only has 4 or 5 vendors but there's alway a nice selection.  There were crepes this year to die for.  And, as in the past, volunteers come around on Sunday just before closing and offer vendors hors d'oeurves or cheese and crackers.  A rather nice touch.