Saturday, February 27, 2010

Are You Up For The Challenge?!

One of the reasons I am so excited about being on a team is for the inspiration and encouragement. I love the idea that all these different people are all over the world doing creative work! It is so validating and uplifting!
I know there are painting groups and writers' groups that have regular structured tasks (like one painting a month or one poem a week) to keep them on their game. So, I thought it would be fun to have periodic challenges where we all make something on a particular theme and share them on the blog or in our etsy shops with a common tag. There will be no judging or prizes - everyone is a winner. It is just for fun and exercise.
The first one is a theme that I just threw out at the first virtual meeting: Alice in Wonderland.

Here are the rules (I am making them up as I go along):

1. comment on this post if you intend to do the challenge
2. make something or things inspired by the theme
3. you have one month to complete and photograph it (and post it in your shop if you feel satisfied with the outcome. If you don't want to post it you can just send the photos to me {}). Maybe we can do a flickr set of all the photos too.
4. share in the fun of seeing what people come up with

If you have questions or other themes that you want to suggest, leave a comment on this post. I hope we get a good response and that it stretches our creativity.

Here is a link to some illustrations and a little background information on Alice. The photo at the top is from this link.
Thanks - Sheila

Friday, February 26, 2010

Postcards From Home

Hi everyone,
I am posting this introduction to a new feature that will be running on this blog. Postcards From Home will be a regular feature where team members post their photos with a short description to help us all get to know each other better.

The pictures can be of your home, your workspace, your view from your window, or your geographical surroundings. Anything you want that helps us see something about you. Please tell us: what the photos are of, how each inspires, effects, or relates to you.

You can post the photos yourself on the blog with the title "Postcards From Home - #whatever", or you can send the info to my etsy convo:, and I will post them for you. I think 1-3 photos each would be a good start.

I am looking forward to seeing the world through all of your eyes!!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Welcome to Artisans' Collective on Etsy: ACE!

Welcome to Artisans’ Collective on Etsy – or ACE. We are a group of Etsy sellers interested in networking, participating in group promotional activities, offering artist-to-artist critiques and support, and creating an exceptional marketplace for Etsy shoppers to visit. Members of Artisans’ Collective strive for exceptionally executed, original works of arts and crafts, and provide top-notch customer service.

We are a group of artisans who have been selling on Etsy and who have come together to share, strengthen and enrich our experiences. We love the positive, open, friendly atmosphere on Etsy, and we see the benefit collective, team activities such as those stated above. We are young and old(er), veteran and novice; we work in a wide variety of mediums, but we all share a passion for creating handmade, high-quality, products. We hope that through our combined efforts we will grow as artists and grow our businesses!

Over the next few months, we will be organizing our plans and fine-tuning some of our goals. We will be posting stories, introductions, pictures, and other features regularly – so keep checking back and spread the word. We hope to make this blog a fun place to visit, learn, and shop!

Thanks a million –

Sharon and Cindy

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Encouragement for artists: don’t have a plan

You don’t have to have it all mapped out in order to create something beautiful. Especially if the lack of a concrete idea is becoming an obstacle to your creating. If you’re telling yourself you can’t sit down and make something until you have an idea, you’re probably procrastinating. See, I believe that creative people always have ideas floating around in their subconscious mind. Otherwise, we wouldn’t know that we were creative people. It is the idea that is the seed of creativity. The conscious mind acts like a sentry to those ideas sometimes – probably for myriad reasons, not all of which are valid. Sometimes, it just might be that we want to sabotage ourselves. Sometimes, we have irrational fears. Whatever it is that is keeping your inner idea from expressing itself, let’s just go ahead and ignore that.

How do you ignore your conscious mind? You bypass it. Don’t listen to the voices telling you that you have to have a plan mapped out before you can create. Go to your place – get your tools, whatever those are, and place them within reach. Get your supplies out and put them in front of you and look at them. Put on some inspiring music. Close your eyes for a few moments if that helps you relax. Clear out the thoughts of your busy day and all your troubles. Open your eyes and look through your supplies and pick out something that catches your eye. Play with it. Use your tools to play with it. Don’t try to have a certain idea about what you’re going to make. Just play.

The purpose is not to come up with something “useable” or “pretty”. The purpose is simply to let your subconscious mind bypass your conscious, strict sentry, and just create. Don’t judge whatever results from your play time. When your time is up, just put the item aside and go back to your daily routine. Your subconscious is still working on being creative, and you just gave it something to “gnaw” on. Make a practice of this, and pretty soon your conscious mind won’t work quite so hard to discourage you. Either that, or you’ll just get better at ignoring it. :)

(this is a reprint from my personal blog,

Friday, February 5, 2010

Making ART Without Making Ourselves Sick - Part I

Lately I have been getting a bit obsessed with studio safety and making sure I am using the chemicals I need to work with in the safest ways possible for me and my family.

Many of us have worked with the materials used in our art for many years. Sometimes this is a good thing because we are familiar with the safety precautions required, but sometimes it also allows us to get a little bit lax especially as our businesses get busier.

My studio is in my house (a converted garage) and I also use a corner of my hubby's shop for drilling and soldering. In his shop (a very large space with 16' ceilings) I use a respirator and a barrier cream on my hands, but I always felt the highly toxic flux fumes from soldering followed me around for the rest of the day - and they did. I recently began wearing coveralls when soldering

(there are pictures of me doing this which hubby holds hostage while threatening Facebook blackmail)

and showering when I get home. I have also limited the days and hours that I do this- I am trying to get stocked up during the slow months to prepare for the busy ones, but we will see how this works out. I am committed to not exposing myself for more than a few hours a week and plan on hiring an extra person for this as my business grows and requires it (fingers crossed I have this problem).

My home studio is even more complicated because it is right off the laundry area and kitchen. One thing I do in my work is image transfers that require spraying krylon clear gloss onto paper to lift the images. I almost always do this outside, but there were a few cold, rainy days during the busy holiday season that I brought this into a bathroom. Even when working very fast with a hair dryer, wearing a respirator, opening a window and using a ceiling ventilation fan - I brought the vapors out of the room with me and into my studio and living spaces. I am now committed to only spraying outside.

We have also just installed a new hood style ventilator in the studio for working with resin- which gives me a tiny headache as soon as the bottle is opened. I also never eat in my studio space anymore

(maybe I will finally lose that 5 pounds ... maybe)

or drink out of an open top container. Frequent handwashing is super important, too. And not putting things in your mouth like paintbrushes and pens that lie around your studio. Don't leave your cell phone lying on your work table.

Two good, immediately available sources of health and safety information are your product’s label and its Material Safety Data Sheet(MSDS) which you can request from the manufacturer.

Artists are most likely to be exposed to toxic materials by either skin contact or
the inhalation of vapors, fumes, mists, or dusts. Exposure can also occur through ingestion. Airborne contaminants in art studios include those emitted from photographic development solutions, polyester, epoxy, or urethane resins, and fumes from welding, wood dusts and chemicals from woodworking, gaseous emissions from kilns, mold and chemicals in fibers and many other chemicals and materials used in other mediums.

I guess the bottom line is that we all need to be familiar with what goes into the materials we are using in our art and how those materials are used and stored in our studios. We want (and need) to create - it is what we do - and we need to create safely for our current health and our future health.

Part II (Next Month) Making ART Without Making Ourselves Sick - Repetitive Movements