Thursday, February 5, 2009

Why buy handmade?

The more I am involved in creating jewelry, the more I am humbled by the artisans I come across every day. I have worked at the Barn Swallow for years and am honored to be a member of the Artisans Center of Virginia, so I have been exposed to the highest quality of craftsmanship possible. I know the struggles of trying to sell one's "art," not just financially but also emotionally, so I made a pledge to buy as much as I can that is "hand made" and I urge you to do the same. The site, www.buyhandmade.org, does a great job explaining why you should.

The Etsy Showcase is another very imaginative site with many, many pages dedicated solely to hand-crafted treasures. Several of us who show our work at the Barn Swallow also sell through Etsy. It is there that I read "a connection to the creator is part of the reward of buying handmade. Mass-produced pieces of art don’t have any meaning ." If you are giving your purchase as a gift, what better way to show your thoughtfulness than to give a one-of-a-kind piece of art (that IS what it is...a piece of art.) There is so much value in it for what you spend and you are helping to promote such an important way of life. I have several of my favorite "artists" featured on my "Links" page; take a minute to look at that - you might just find the source for the perfect gift - for yourself or that lucky recipient.

Bronze Clay

Ancient Greeks and Romans and Chinese used bronze for its durability and its beauty. Bronze clay enables me to do the same. As in my silver work, I am compelled by the simplicity and uniqueness of nature. I take great pride in the fact that each one of my pieces is one-of-a-kind; just like the flowers and shells that inspire me.

The snowflake blossom I used was one I picked along the path leading to the Barn Swallow last spring. I found the shell in the sand on Topsail Island in May and the "beach daisy"grew outside our beach house. See my bronze pieces at www.lesliechisholm.com

I am amazed by the detail the bronze clay allows me to reflect – every vein, each petal, all that makes it true to life. The rich, lustrous, gleaming finish gives my bronze jewelry the elegance and extravagance of gold without the expense. I have worked in silver for so long that I am excited about the new color scheme that bronze leads me to.

I hope you will keep coming back to see what I have created with this new medium.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Marketing Struggles...

As an artisan, I struggle with how to market and sell my work. I don't think I am very good at it and try to read everything I can get my hands on to learn more about cutting edge ideas. Entrepreneur Magazine is a great source of information and inspiring ideas. Several people, whose opinion I value, have suggested that I not only create a Facebook page, but also place some videos about my work on YouTube. I am still working on those, but here is a draft of first video. Tell me what you think.....

video

Art and Fear

Art & Fear – Observations on the Perils and Rewards of Artmaking
by David Bayles and Ted Orland

This book that my friend, Jo, gave me really resonated with me because so much of what motivates me, or gets in the way, is based in fear. It permeates my daily life, but it also is a part of my jewelry making. “Every artist must learn that even the failed pieces are essential.” It is that potential “failure” that scares me so. That and the subsequent waste of time and materials (the silver is SO expensive) that make an anxious ache in my stomach every time I start a piece.

About a quarter of the way into the book, it states that “fear that you are not a real artist causes you to undervalue your work.” I googled the definition of the word “artist” and, as you can imagine, found a lot of variations. The only one I felt applied to me was “a person who creates an aesthetic work.” Art and Fear goes on to say “while you may feel you’re just pretending that you’re an artist, there’s no way to pretend you’re making art. “ That made me smile and that is one of the nice things about the book. It acknowledges the fear and angst, but it also makes me feel better about what I do as though it is somehow validated.

“What is really needed is…….an overriding willingness to embrace mistakes and surprises along the way.” I am often asked about my creative process and I can honestly say that, often, a piece comes together purely by accident. I may have an initial idea, but then something goes “wrong” in the process and I am led in a different direction. I had one piece when the oxidizing produced a different color (and much more interesting) than I had intended. I put it down on my work table next to some pearls I was waiting to use while I went to do something else and they were a perfect color match! (If you know me at all, you know that being color coordinated is crucial to me.) It ended up being one of my best and most favorite necklaces.

The fear that no one will like what I make seems to be a common fear for “artists” and I think I have gotten past that. If I like it and it is the best it is going to be, I am satisfied. If it sells, that is a bonus. I’ve hit the lottery if the person who bought it loves it as much as I do.

Thank you, Jo, for this book – you have no idea how much I have gotten out of it.