Monday, December 29, 2008
Willard was very fond of the boxes I make and he purchased quite a few of them. He sent me a Christmas card this year in which he described how he uses my theme-based boxes. In one he stores his collection of Beatles albums; one jingles with his stash of miscellaneous keys; another keeps precious photographs; in another he places his Coca-Cola memorabilia; one holds information about every car he has ever owned; one keeps safe all the love letters from his wife...the list goes on (he bought a LOT of my boxes).
I'm overwhelmed with gratitude. I wish Willard and his wife, Joyce, many, many years of good health in which they may continue to collect and create (they are both artists).
Sunday, December 7, 2008
What we did right:
Homemade (but professional-looking) signs with balloons, strategically placed at key intersections. Also balloons on my mailbox and front porch.
Postcard mailings to friends and previous clients (can't beat the deals from VistaPrint)
Free announcement in the local paper
Refreshments - Mulled Cider, brownies, cookies, misc. sweets
Variety of art media and prices
Each artist took responsibility for some part of the planning and preparation
Holiday decorations were kept simple
It was not a problem that we didn't take credit cards. No one even asked.
Free Raffle for Gift Certificate to the Shelburne Arts Co-op (each artist contributed $5)
What we'd change:
Make more art!
Send more postcards - These proved to be our best advertising, and probably 80% of the shoppers were people we knew.
Attach the signs to WOOD stakes! The ground was frozen hard which made it nearly impossible to push the wires in!
Personally, since the sale was at MY home, I'd start my housecleaning earlier - maaayyyybe
I promised photos of the new boxes I made for the show but 3 of the newest sold, along with some older ones. You'll have to wait.
I would love to hear from anyone who's done one of these types of sales. Any advice you have to share would be welcome. There's always room for improvement.
Friday, December 5, 2008
I made 6 new boxes this week and I'll post them soon. Wish us luck!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
More than once during our visit I was reminded of how detached I am from what's happening with technology today. Case in point: I humbled myself to ask my daughter to show me how to text message. I know - I know - I'm probably one of the last holdouts, but I really haven't felt I needed to know. I have no problem leaving a voice mail if someone cannot take my call. I still don't think I need to know, but at least I can do it if I have to. While waiting at the airport long before dawn was even thinking of cracking this morning, I thought of a message to text my daughter. Of course I wouldn't dream of waking her with this completely silly message, but in this case, texting would be the perfect medium. Sadly, after taking about 5 minutes to type the six word message, I entered something I wanted to correct. I couldn't figure out how to backspace, pressed one wrong button and my whole sentence disappeared. I never did get the message out until our layover in Chicago when I simply called her.
Reminded me of a quote from The Little Prince: "Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them." Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Some pics from my prep space:
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Sunday, October 26, 2008
ALL MY LIFE I HAVE BEEN DRAWN TO DECORATIVE BOXES.
When I see one, I must touch it, study it, and imagine its purpose. Then I am compelled to open it. Until now, these boxes have always been empty.
EACH OF JANE’S BOXES IS UNIQUELY CRAFTED BY HAND. THEY ARE COVERED WITH HAND MADE AND SPECIALTY PAPERS. JANE SAYS THAT THE PAPERS ARE HER INSPIRATION FOR THE DESIGN OF ANY BOX. AFTER THE PAPER SELECTION, THE HANDLE OF EACH BOX AND THE OBJECT INSIDE ARE CAREFULLY CHOSEN FROM A LIFETIME COLLECTION OF FOUND TREASURES.
Friday, October 24, 2008
- WARNING! DRIVER UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF CHILDREN
- HANG UP AND DRIVE
- WAG MORE - BARK LESS
- I BRAKE FOR OLD GRAVEYARDS (I love snooping around in old cemeteries)
- GOD IS EVERYWHERE - EVEN IN NEW JERSEY (maybe this is funnier to those of us who have actually lived/done time in NJ)
- SAVE THE EARTH SO WE'LL STILL HAVE SOMEPLACE TO BOOGIE!
- GUN CONTROL MEANS USING BOTH HANDS (seen on a camouflage painted truck in MN)
- FRODO FAILED - BUSH GOT THE RING
- YES, THIS IS MY TRUCK. NO, I WON'T HELP YOU MOVE (a woman was the driver of this truck)
- IT'S TIME TO MOTHER EARTH
- MEAN PEOPLE SUCK
- WHAT IF THE HOKEY POKEY IS WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT?
- THE LAST TIME WE MIXED POLITICS AND RELIGION SOMEONE GOT BURNED AT THE STAKE
- FEMINISM IS THE RADICAL NOTION THAT WOMEN ARE PEOPLE
- UNIONS - THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT YOU THE WEEKEND
- SOMEWHERE IN TEXAS A VILLAGE IS MISSING THEIR IDIOT (old news, but worth repeating)
- GROW YOUR OWN DOPE...PLANT A MAN
- IF WAR IS THE ANSWER, WE ARE NOT ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
- THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE ARE NOT THINGS
- BARE FEET - NOT ARMS
- FIGHT TRUTH DECAY
- SILLY BOYS! JEEPS ARE FOR GIRLS!
- SPEAK YOUR MIND EVEN IF YOUR VOICE SHAKES
- YOU DON'T HAVE TO BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK
- A DAY WITHOUT FAIRIES IS LIKE A DAY WITHOUT SUNSHINE
- CIVIL MARRIAGE IS A CIVIL RIGHT
- I LOVE MY COUNTRY BUT I THINK WE SHOULD START SEEING OTHER PEOPLE
- RUST IN PEACE (on a really old Chevy clunker)
- CLEVERLY DISGUISED AS A RESPONSIBLE ADULT
- MY CAT IS SMARTER THAN YOUR HONOR STUDENT
- A SMALL MIND IS A BEAUTIFUL THING TO LOSE
- BUCKLE UP - IT MAKES IT HARDER FOR THE ALIENS TO SUCK YOU OUT
- DO NOT MEDDLE IN THE AFFAIRS OF DRAGONS FOR YOU ARE CRUNCHY AND TASTE GOOD WITH KETCHUP
- PETA - PEOPLE EATING TASTY ANIMALS (I actually saw this on a truck in the parking lot of a company that produces soy-based foods!)
- PICKING UP OR DISCHARGING PASSENGERS PROHIBITED (ok - why can't they just say No Hitch-hiking?)
- RUBBISH DISPOSAL PROHIBITED (or - No Littering?)
- TRUCK EXITING PROHIBITED (or - No Truck Exit?)
- THICKLY SETTLED (fyi - this sign is posted as you are approaching the boundary of a town of ANY size after you have been driving in the countryside)
- LIVE PARKING ONLY - ALL OTHERS WILL BE TOWED (You're on your own with this one that we saw at a small roadside pull-out)
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I just set up this little vignette on my desk to take the photo, and I used 2 of my art journals to basically block the view of my messy computer desk. The journal contents are pretty random. I try to keep these little art journals with me most of the time so when I get ideas for new projects I can jot them down or sketch them out. I also enter travel diaries into these when I'm on trips. When we first moved to W. Massachusetts I began noticing more bumper stickers than I'd ever seen before. I started recording them at the back of my journals. I noticed one this morning that I'd not seen before. On the bumper sticker, next to a pink ribbon, were the words "Save the Ta-tas"
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Thought I'd share this art story with you. In 2006 I was invited to join other artists in a fund-raising effort (The Illustrated Chair) for a local library. I was provided with an old chair to transform in any way I chose to reflect a book. Having recently moved to Western Massachusetts, I was becoming increasingly familiar with the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson. http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/hours.html I focused my design theme on Dickinson. To make a long story short, the Emily Dickinson International Society made the winning bid for the chair. They planned to present it as a gift to the next outgoing president of the EDIS.
In the 2 years ensuing the auction, the chair took on a life of its own. A handful of articles made the local papers, and I was often introduced as "the artist who made the Emily Dickinson chair." My 15 minutes of fame was magnified to a degree my meager math skills cannot compute. At last, the chair was presented this August to the EDIS outgoing president, Gudrun Grabher, Professor of American Studies at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. I had no idea she would be so overwhelmed with the gift. The story of shipping the chair to its final destination is a novel in itself, so I'll spare you that part.
Gudrun recently emailed me a copy of her thank-you to EDIS:
" My dear friends, last week I returned from Boston - together with the Illustrated ED Chair. We both arrived safely in Innsbruck. Thanks to ... great efforts, the chair had been wrapped and packed so carefully, that no harm was done to it on the trip from Boston to Innsbruck. It took me almost one and a half hours to unwrap it. It was like Christmas. For the weekend my mother and my sister came to visit me and to see and admire the Chair. On Monday I took it to my office so that my colleagues, who had been eagerly awaiting it, could also admire it. I want to thank all of you again for this wonderful gift. It is one of the most touching things I have ever received in my whole life. My former professor and mentor dropped by and I showed him my Chair. He said it was the most original gift he had ever seen in the academic environment. Jane Chang, the artist, sent me a whole portfolio that goes with the Chair. I have decided to put all of that material into the beautiful Japanese album that I was given last summer in Kyoto when I stepped down as President."
(Re the chair portfolio: I kept a binder filled with photos, my research notes, and newsclippings on my project. I sent a complete photocopy of this portfolio to Gudrun after the presentation.)
How very satisfying to know something I created has brought so much pleasure. Generally, when an artist creates something, the only way he or she knows it's appreciated is if it is purchased. I then think, "Well, at least SOMEONE enjoyed it". It is rare, however, to have this much knowledge of the end result, and I'm so grateful to be able to know how it all turned out.
The journey of this art project has added so much to my life. I've made dozens of new friends in circles I'd never thought to enter before, and I've become more and more attached to Dickinson's work. All this from a little voice in my head saying, "Just go ahead and try it. You need to stretch yourself in new ways."
Friday, October 3, 2008
A few photos of my 2 other art forms are included here.
To make my paper quilts I use leftover scraps of the precious papers from my boxes. I adhere the scraps onto a substrate then cover the resulting patchwork with a large, reversible (2 different colored papers fused together) sheet. I sew (by hand or machine) on the top sheet then carefully cut between stitched lines. I peel back the top sheet to reveal the papers underneath AND the reverse side of the top sheet. I have these pieces professionally framed using museum quality glass.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I'm grateful for the useful advice I'm receiving from everyone. I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful friends.
Lots of requests to see more of my work. Since I just "birthed" a group of 5 boxes, I'm including their portraits here. I'm not a professional photographer, so you'll have to put up with these unprofessional photos. To give you an idea of size, I measured the largest box in the group. The box with the tiny school bus on the top has a footprint of 6 1/2" X 5" and is 6" tall. The top of this box is actually slanted a bit, so the 6" is the maximum height. It's hard to see just what is in that 1/2 circle box with the Chinese symbol on the lid. Inside is a tiny Buddha. Prices range from $35-$55 for the boxes in this group. $35 represents the lowest price on any of my boxes and they go up to $100. When I first started selling these, I heard many people say my prices were way too low. Over the years I've inched up the amounts but even last month a customer said, "These are so inexpensive!"
Pricing is a difficult issue for all artists. Of course, we never get paid for our TIME, because it's so hard to convince buyers our pricing should include at least a reasonable hourly wage. I generally consider pricing by three criteria: cost of materials, difficulty of execution (this would include my time), and what the market will bear. Another point comes into play with pricing. How do you handle adjusting prices for work sold directly to a buyer compared to work for which you receive only a percentage (i.e. art sold on consignment)? I'd like to hear from other artists how you price your work.
So many boxes to make and so little time! I also have to finish 2 collages and a paper quilt. I'll include photos of those another day.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I am a visual artist (medium: paper and mixed-media). I create paper quilts, decorative boxes and mixed-media collage. I have also done time as a professional storyteller, and it's something that remains near and dear to my heart.
I'm currently working on boxes - trying to gear up for the holidays. I've been making these specialty boxes since 1998 and have sold over 400. I re-purpose old wooden boxes that I collect at flea markets and tag sales. After prepping them with a good sanding, I cover them inside and out with decorative and handmade papers. Then I add 2 little treasures (also flea market finds) - one goes on the lid of the box and a related item goes inside. I try to achieve that "aha" moment, or, at the very least a whimsical surprise. I believe art should make you smile.
The economy is fragile, to say the least, and it's going to be a tough road ahead for small businesses. Our arts co-op is always looking for creative, frugal ways to attract customers. October is Co-op Month here, and local co-ops of all sorts are making efforts to support each other with group advertising, posters and special displays. Do you have any ideas to share? I'd love to hear from you.