Monday, December 29, 2008

Nothin' But Wood -- Featured ArtFire Artisan

I love miniatures. They appeal to the child in me (as I suspect they do for many of us), so I was captivated when I saw these tiny doors. Newfoundland artisan Kerry (of Nothin' But Wood) has created these small, decorative gnome or fairy doors for your garden, and I think they're adorable. From the hinge to the doorknob to the tiny lion's head door knocker, this one looks perfect.

Here's what Kerry says about this aspect of his work:
My interest in this unusual and, some might say, 'odd', path originated from a lady in Western Canada. This lady, who has her garden predominantly decorated with things "whimsical" was purchasing Gnome doors from the UK and found them to be terribly expensive. That, and the cost of high shipping, was adding insult to injury for her. She simply asked me "Hey Kerry, can you make these?" She showed me a picture of a Gnome door. I immediately purchased some plans, read them over and decided to make them my OWN way. :)

If you've never heard of garden gnomes, gnome doors and the like, you're missing out on a lot of charming fun -- and probably a dash of good luck, too. The Wee Folk are especially at home in gardens and backyards; if you make them welcome, they'll repay your kindness with healthy plants and pets, keeping your karma in order all the while. :)

Kerry also uses his scroll saw to make custom portraits of people. I'm so happy I found this talented Canadian craftsman, and look forward to seeing more of his pieces. You can investigate all his work at his ArtFire Studio!

Nothing' But Wood's ArtFire Studio

Sunday, December 28, 2008

ArtFire's Goals

On Christmas day, on the ArtFire Fora, the question was asked "What are the goals of Artfire, apart from being a better Etsy?"

Tony Ford, the Executive Vice President of Marketing replied shortly afterward, and I think his comments bear repeating:

So let's talk goals. This isn't a top down broadcast kind of discussion. This site is the first of its kind. We are engaged in community directed development a process that creates the foundation of the site and then opens the development process to the members to direct our growth, functionality, goals, mission and vision.

So here is the ideas we have and the goals we have set, these are open to input and feedback from the community.

1) We want to help sellers sell - no matter where. Using the following:

a) Education - teaching and mentoring new sellers and helping experts strive to improve through rich media lessons, expert consulting, third party support, and community mentoring.

B) Systems - creating a selling platform that is functional, simple, customizable and most importantly - fully integrating, to the best of our ability, your promotion and management of all selling sites through the artfire platform. We seek to be a hub that allows you to manage your business, no matter where you are selling.

C) Bringing Buyers - Reinvesting money from the site into buyer marketing. This will start on Internet sites and print channels, then shift to include broadcast, new media and more traditional channels. We intend to champion the handmade movement using all of our marketing and PR resources to shift this trend from micro to macro and create an environment where handmade buying is much more the norm.

D) Positively impact the planet and our fellow humans - cooperatively build a site that pools our indivdual resources, money, service, impact and creativity to improve our environment, help those less fortunate and support humanitarian efforts in research, education and the arts. By collecting and focusing a little from each of us we can make a dramatic impact in many of these areas.

E) Become the preeminent place on the Internet for artists and crafters to collaborate, partner, communicate and share via extensive, rich, functional community features and interaction points.

F) Create a self regualting, self supporting, self reliant community where each member can have both responsibility and interaction at a level that best suits them.

These are a just a start.

What else would you like to discuss?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

MuiJadeDesigns -- Featured ArtFire Artisan

I don't know about you, but I'm fascinated with precious metal clay (PMC). PMC consists of microscopic particles of pure silver or fine gold powder and a water-soluble, non-toxic, organic binder which burns off during firing. Some extraordinary work can be made using this material, as today's Featured Artisan amply demonstrates.

The necklace, above, features turquoise, fine silver (from PMC) and sterling. I think it's gorgeous.

MuiJadeDesigns lives in Maryland, where she designs and makes her jewellery, as well as teaching classes in jewellery making. She began as a beader, but has been inspired by the medium of PMC to become a certified artisan in that material. She says:

Each piece of my jewelry is individually artificial designed, soldered and polished. Each piece in my store is handcrafted with natural materials from Fine Silver, Sterling Silver and finest gemstones. Here you will find one-of-a-kind, handmade jewelry that is something special for you or someone you love.

I love the little bee on this honeycomb-textured pendant! Again, the work is all fine and sterling silver, with a little cubic zirconia for the bee's yellow body.

This is elegant, bold and original jewellery, and a great example of what PMC can become in a talented artisan's hands!

MuiJade's ArtFire Studio

MuiJade's Website

Friday, December 26, 2008

ImagineStudio -- Featured ArtFire Artisan

When I saw the work above (Madame Paris Pantheon) on the front page of ArtFire, I was riveted. Canadian artist, Lise Marion of ImagineStudios, describes her work as "digital photo fusion collages". Often beginning with the work of the great artists of the past, her pieces are layered, altered, and heightened through digital techniques, and then printed on archival papers with archival inks.

She says of herself:
My professional background is in visual and creative arts as well as in social work. I presently live in the Montreal region where I share my life with the loves of my life, my husband and my two daughters. I’ve been creative all my life…literally. It all started with feeling the mud between my toes on the farm in the Canadian prairies where I was born and spent my childhood. Creativity is definitely a passion with me. In that sense, my artwork is neither a job nor a hobby but a need. The ideas just keep coming and I continuously strive to bring them to life.
Through more than 30 years, my one constant expression in art has been Collage, and for the past five years I have been working on transferring this art form into the digital world. Layers upon layers of thoughts, emotions and research have been turned into transparencies, textures, colours, depth, emotions, portraitures, etc. This virtual digital world of seemingly endless possibilities has given me a new take on my artwork, allowing me to pursue even further my undying need to produce lyrical, evocative and sometimes provocative images.

The piece above is called "Waiting for Spring". I love the contrast between the two works I've selected for this feature (there are many, many more exquisite works in her ArtFire Studio): the first is quite vivid and saturated in a photographic way, the second softer and more painterly. They both share a great sense of repressed emotion bubbling to the surface, and they both contain many details that are not evident on first viewing.

I encourage you to explore Lise's work at ArtFire.

ImagineStudio's ArtFire Studio

ImagineStudio's Etsy Shop

Monday, December 22, 2008

cctexan3 -- Featured ArtFire Artisan

I first noticed cctexan3 on the ArtFire Forums. She is clearly a gracious and generous individual, and I liked her just for the sense I get of her being fully human and very kind.

Then I checked out her Studio. Man, can this nice woman make jewellery!

I fell in love with the colours of this necklace, but it's the name that clinched it for me: "Crabby Diva Agate Necklace". As a certified, 100%, all-natural Diva (often crabby, it must be admitted) how could I resist? :)

Turns out that cctexan3, the artisan behind the necklace, named it after the gorgeous crab agate that sets the tone for this piece, and matching earrings and bracelet, all available at her ArtFire Studio.

This 44 year old artistic mother (of an artistic daughter) says of herself and her work:
Howdy From Texas! I love jewelry and making glamorous Diva Style pieces. My style is loud and proud, big and bold... ( I m a Texan remember?)

I love making jewelry and teaching classes with senior citizens. I kind of fell into this; it is a hobby gone wild. I could no longer keep giving my stuff away since everyone had so many pieces of mine. So with my moms urging, I began to expand into shows, getting registered with the state for sales, business plans and all that jazz. I forgot how much time goes into owning my own business but I would not trade it for the world!

I empathize with the hobby gone wild, part, cc -- I think many of us do! And I love bold, myself. Well, I would, wouldn't I? :)

This necklace is the "Blueberry Surprise", made with dyed blue magnesite nuggets, red coral and pewter Bali style beads. Another bold and beautiful work of art from a very talented designer and a very kind and generous soul. Bless you!

cctexan3's ArtFire Studio
cctexan3's Etsy shop

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Leader of Men -- Featured ArtFire Artisan

Today's Featured Artisan is Alexandra, a.k.a. Leader Of Men, from Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada. There's a lovely, clean aesthetic going on here, as you can see from her Anomaly Ring, pictured above, made to order in sterling silver with two differently-sized little cups catching the light.
I am a self-taught jewellery designer with a background in architecture and design. All of my jewellery is handmande by me in my own little fortress in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, under the watchful eye of my helpful houserabbit, Attila the Bun.

I work primarily in precious metals and semi-precious stones. My designs are inspired both by my architectural background and the colours and textures of the lush Pacific Northwest.
(By the way, I've been choosing the artists to feature here from my hotlist on ArtFire. I swear I didn't try to find two Canadians in a row who were assisted in their artistic endeavours by rabbits :) (see Dame Named Redd, below). Who knew bunnies were so pivotal in the history of arts and crafts?)

This is the Wealh Necklace, which features soft blue-green aquamarine rounds mix with walnut-shaped vintage rosewood beads. No, that name is not a typo (that was the copy editor in me, wanting to insert what I thought was a missing "t" :) :

"Wealh" is from the Old English word meaning walnut. These beads are beautifully carved to show the wood's lovely grain, and are extremely limited in supply. Links and s-clasp are sterling silver.
Tactile, clean, simple -- elegant function meeting perfect design. That's the work of Leader of Men.

Leader of Men ArtFire Studio

Leader of Men Blog
Leader of Men Etsy Store

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Dame Named Redd -- Featured ArtFire Artisan

I have a confession to make. I love kitsch. My home is pretty tasteful (but then, I guess we all think that, eh?) but my home studio is something else :) That's where I collect my funky 1950s lamps (I've got one with a panther on its base), my portraits of the Queen and that's where my most prized possession is displayed: a paint-by-numbers version of Leonard da Vinci's The Last Supper, bought at a Goodwill store in Toronto for $8. ( I'm still looking for an Elvis on black velvet ...)

This personal quirk of taste is one reason I freaked out when I saw the above cameo by A Dame Named Redd at ArtFire.

I always used to have a pink flamingo somewhere in my apartment. I realize that this is not unusual for people in their 20s, but mine stayed with me until I was 40 :) This cameo made me feel a tiny bit nostalgic for those days ...

And how about this Bad Ass Skull and Crossbones Cameo Necklace? I love the Halloween colours and the bold statement it makes: "I'm a bad ass and I don't care who knows it". And yet, it possesses a kitschy elegance all its own. The Dame also makes Tetris earrings which I think are a must-have for geeky fashionistas everywhere.

A Dame Named Redd lives in Ottawa (yay, Canada!) Here's a bit of what she says about herself:

I'm a jack of all trades and master of none. I love knitting, crocheting, beads, painting. I also stencil shirts and sew a little. I even have my own studio in my house that I share with my Holland Lop, Chloe.
All this, and a bunny, too. That's cool.

Here are her links:

Dame Named Redd ArtFire Studio

Dame Named Redd Etsy Shop
Dame Named Redd Website
Dame Named Redd Blog

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eleven days of listings on ArtFire

I just want to draw your attention to ArtFire Artisan Rock Creek Creations' article comparing the number of listings in various categories on ArtFire on Dec. 2 with the number on Dec. 13. You can read the article on her blog here.

It's an interesting snapshot of the growth in listings that's been taking place on ArtFire lately, and if you're following the fortunes of this new site, you may be interested.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Here's a great (and balanced) summation of one artist's view of the struggle between Etsy and ArtFire (with great Nintendo references). Cover That Mother is the blog of illustrator thepairabirds and I think her approach to choosing a venue is quite interesting to read. Her minimalist art is extremely cool, too :)

thepairabirds ArtFire Shop

thepairabirds Etsy Shop

Painted Bull -- Featured ArtFire Artisan

Today's Featured ArtFire Artisan is JJ, Walts, a.k.a. Painted Bull, from Blairsville, Georgia in the United States. She's an historian by education and a fiber artist with a particular interest in using spinning and weaving to create "primal expressions". These expressions include woven jewellery, scarves, rugs and other fiber art which she weaves on an Inkle loom (a special, narrow loom) using hemp yarn and waxed Irish linen thread, often incorporating fossils and stones (see her woven choker with ammonite fossil, above). She says:
I am fascinated with the historic aspect regarding art and culture. I utilize ancient fossils, stones and cultural artifacts within my pieces to weave a tale about the primeval stories of earth and the history of people and civilizations.

This is work with a great deal of thought behind its aesthetic -- it seems equally intellectual and passionately textural. I really like it. The necklace, above, is stunningly beautiful, and could be from many cultures or times. Here's JJ's evocative description of it:
Woven Hemp and Linen Necklace with Ostrich Shell Beads, Old Tribal Disc Trade Beads, Pen Shell Heishe Beads

This necklace is in honor of many cultures and traditional forms of adornment.
There are two linen threads, one in a dark rich red and the other a vivid turquoise, woven into a soft space-dyed hemp yarn that changes from white to silver gray to black. The end length of the necklace accented with African Ostrich Shell, and Old Tribal Disc Trade Beads, and natural brown Pen Shell Heishe Beads.
There are lots of places on the web where you can learn more about JJ and her art, and you can even purchase her work right through ArtFire and Etsy.

Painted Bull Blog
Painted Bull Website
Painted Bull ArtFire Studio
Painted Bull Etsy Shop

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

ArtFire's new Shop Window feature is now working!

This will let you feature four of your items in a similar format to the beloved Etsy "Mini". (You can see my Shop Window in the sidebar to the right, down towards the bottom of the page).

You can pick either your four most recent items, or actually choose which four to feature, which is a nice way to create an artful little composition for your blog or website.

You can find the Shop Window at "My Studio", on the left hand sidebar under "Promote". If you seem to have problems, try refreshing or reloading the page, that seems to clear up any problems I had with the code.

Thanks, ArtFire!

Top Shelf Totes -- Featured Art Fire Artisan

How much do I covet this wristlet? A lot. Look at it: the perfect size, the perfect shape and that fabulous fabric. That's no accident, of course. Its creator, Top Shelf Totes from Los Angeles, is drawn to designs and fabrics that reflect her practical bent. As she says on her blog:

I hope you enjoy these. I can’t wait to use one of these sets on my next cruise. I think the wood handle tote with a wristlet would be perfect for my offshore time. I can pack it flat in my suitcase, but use it to collect whatever souvenirs I find while off the ship. Then I can use the wristlet back on the ship to carry the few things I need when out and about. I haven’t decided which fabric I’m going to use for myself… so many fun prints to hcoose from!

Anyway, as I continue to create, I am slowly realizing what I want my main focus to be. I’ve made many different designs, but a few really stand out to me. Especially the designs that I think work well for travel needs. I’m an avid traveler and am always thinking of new things to use on the road.

I adore the range of fabrics she's picked and each item looks well-made and sturdy as well as attractive.

She's just opened up a shop on Art Fire (she was already selling on Etsy) and she's started blogging not only about her craft, but about the growth and challenges of Art Fire.

It's well worth a read!

TopShelfTotes at Art Fire
TopShelfTotes Blog

Monday, December 15, 2008

Paw and Claw Designs: Featured Art Fire Artisan #1

When I first landed at Art Fire, while I was uploading my own work, I wanted to do a little shopping. I love supporting other artisans, and I think it's important, if you're going to be selling on a venue, to really understand the entire shopping experience your customers are going to have.

I found these pretty earrings, and had to have them. (I know, it's simply ridiculous to buy earrings when I make them, but these are just so simple and elegant). I know Paw and Claw Designs from Etsy, so was thrilled to be able to buy from her on Art Fire, and I'm delighted to make her my very first Featured Art Fire Artisan!

Visit Paw and Claw's Studio at Art Fire

Here's some info from Paw and Claw's bio at Art Fire:

Paw and Claw Designs specializes in Handmade Bead and Wire Jewelry for One-of-a-Kind People with One-of-a-Kind Taste.

From a funky signature piece, to a stunning set for your wedding day, Paw and Claw Designs has the unique jewelry you want, at a price you can afford.

I love reading about and learning new techniques, so check back in my shop often to see what I've learned to do lately.

Check my blog for all the latest info!

Friday, December 12, 2008

I've just joined Art Fire

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell Handmade

Well, after a busy summer and autumn, the time has come for me to transition from Etsy to a new sales venue for my art and jewellery.

This has been coming for a while, but I had an "aha" experience lately, and realize the effort I've put into being an Etsy-booster isn't being met by a reciprocal effort from the company. In spite of all the recent changes, most particularly in staff, things seem to be getting worse, not better.

So I've started up a new shop at a new website:

My first experiences with it have been entirely positive. Joining is very easy and listing items is so simple and intuitive (all on one page, all images uploaded at the same time) that it made my head spin.

The site is in beta, which means that it's still buggy. But most excitingly of all, it means that you can be in on the ground floor, and help shape the site into something very special.

You can see it in the Chatterbox Forums, where Admin reply right away to questions and suggestions, sometimes implementing things immediately, other times adding them to a list. By the way, the list of features the Art Fire team is working on is PUBLIC. That's right, Art Fire seems to believe in communicating with its users, something I find very refreshing after over year and a half at Etsy.

Art Fire currently has a special Artisan Stimulus Package being offered: unlimited listing and relisting, with no selling fees, for a flat rate of $7 US a month FOR LIFE. That's right, for life. That includes stats (STATS!), currency conversion and much, much more. The offer is only for the first 5000 shops that sign up, though.

Because I believe in this venue, and I believe it can deliver most of the things that Etsy, bless its heart, has failed to, I've started this blog to feature Art Fire Artisans and to help spread the word about this great venue.

I'm Dangerous Mezzo. If you'd like to check out my Art Fire Studio, go ahead! Check it out!