Friday, November 1, 2013
I blinked and the Christmas season is upon us once again! It begins fast and furious for craftspeople this week in St. John's. Tomorrow is the opening of the Craft Council's two gallery exhibits: Comfort & Joy in the main gallery, and Fire & Ice in the Annex Gallery. I hope you can join us! 2-4pm
At right is a sneak peek at the work I have in these two shows.
Comfort & Joy will run Nov. 2 - Dec. 18th, and Fire & Ice will run Nov. 2 - Nov. 23rd.
Craft Council's Christmas Craft Fair is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and the caliber of juried craft just gets better and better.
You'll find my booth upstairs this year, near the south entrance to the theater auditorium, booth #S211. The fair opens Wednesday, Nov. 6th, at noon and runs until Sunday, Nov. 10th at 5:00. Full fair hours and other details can be found here.
I've been exceedingly busy making new work and I'd love for you to drop by and have a look.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
|My booth, Christmas 2012|
And so, I'm taking to heart the advice from the many marketing gurus that preach "if you double your space, you'll double your sales". This is a simplified soundbite of course. But there certainly is truth in allowing enough room at a craft fair for customers to browse. I know that as a customer, if it's too crowded, I don't linger long to look at the work on display. When it's busy, my booth has been crowded, and with the small size of my product customers will pass by rather than elbow their way in to see what I'm selling. However, with a bigger booth I must reinvent my display.
I enjoy this planning. It's a bit of a puzzle, considering all the factors that make a successful booth display that works for me, as well as my customers. One factor is cost - as my display must morph from one craft fair setting to another, I can't break the bank on any one display set-up. Another is portability - all the component parts must be carried to and from my small car, often within the bustling chaos of all the other booth holders who are also setting up. And because I share my humble abode, I must also consider the storage of the display components between fairs. The display components themselves must also function well once they are set up - it is alarming to customers if the display is wobbly or they're uncertain of whether they can touch the product without something tipping over. Uncertain customers don't linger, and therefore don't make a purchase.
I've been wanting for some time now to figure out a way to move my display from primarily horizontal surfaces, to more vertical ones. The challenge here is the traditional "pipe and drape" set-up at the fairs. Drapery, obviously, doesn't provide a stable surface for mounting things on. This year I think I have figured out a solution, that still meets all of my criteria above for display components. It will no doubt need some tweaking, once it's in use. But between now and then I'm trying to foresee glitches and remedy them.
|I will have this one big plinth for some display items as well as storage.|
|I'm sewing a long narrow curtain to wrap the booth at eye-level.|
|I've been collecting boxes, and had hoped to find green tights to cover them.|
|Since green tights couldn't be found, I've resorted to spray paint. These boxes will hang in front of the long, narrow curtain, and, with the buttons I will attach to them, will hold my jewellery.|
|This is my pricey experiment: some warm LED lighting tape which I'm hoping to suspend in front of my vertical display.|
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Audio interlude: Mo Kenney with Joel Plaskett
Audio Interlude: Katie Baggs
Visitors, traveling, craft fairs, and the glorious folk festival: it's been a busy summer. Now ahead of me I see time free to tackle ideas that have been on the back burner, waiting. There are many exhibits with open calls-for-entry this fall, and I've jumped with both feet into a much larger booth for the Christmas Craft Fair in November. I don't want to disappoint myself by not meeting my own expectations. So now: to work!
Monday, July 1, 2013
|Vamps for the "Walking with our Sisters" Project|
|For "Primp my Nest", an auction at Eastern Edge Gallery|
Underlying this solution is a whole other can of worms that I won't get into extensively here, surrounding the requests that craftspeople and artists often receive for donations of their work in support of a charitable or fundraising, activity or group. Some of the worms in the aforementioned "can" advocate for the donating of the talents we have for the greater good, no holds (worms?) barred. Some other worms hold firmly to the belief that nobody's skills (or the resulting product of those skills) should be expected, or therefore given, for free. In between these two viewpoints are the rest of the worms that hold a range of opinions accommodating one viewpoint or the other to greater or lesser degree. I'm of the belief that everyone's entitled to arrive at their own solution to the "donation conundrum", to the best that the allocation of their time, and means, allows.
|Last year's humpback whales for the annual Clay Studio Beach Firing|
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
This past weekend, on Fogo and Change Islands, the AGM for the Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador was held. Outgoing chair, Jason Holley, spoke eloquently about how the trajectory of his career in craft (and art) has been shaped by his involvement with our local Craft Council. It spurred me to consider how my current life's work has also been influenced by the services of the Craft Council.
When I moved to Newfoundland, the only craft of my own creation that I had sold was a few pieces of pottery at a Yellowknife Guild of Crafts sale. I remember being shocked that people had bought them. Upon arriving in St. John's, I registered for a clay class at the Craft Council Clay Studio with Isabella St. John of Blue Moon Pottery. Even without having ever sold anything, I know I would always feel compelled to keep making craft. But I never forgot that feeling of amazement that someone would pay for something I'd made. Taking the 2 year Textile Studies program at the Anna Templeton Centre, while I was wait-listed to get into the welding program, I learned new craft skills. That's also when I learned about the process of submitting work to the Craft Council Gallery when they had open calls-for-entry. Wow! That was really the beginning of my craft career! I love the challenge of making work to suit a theme. I love seeing how other artists and craftspeople have interpreted the same theme once the exhibit opens. And again, it's always rewarding when in buying something I've made, a customer lets me know that I've touched a nerve with them, in a good way. The pieces I submitted to the Gallery were in a variety of media. It's only since I've returned from my training at Haliburton School of The Arts that I've narrowed my focus to metal, primarily jewellery. But in the years before that I made primarily textile pieces, both sculptural and functional, I also went through a "lamp phase" incorporating clay and fabric and metal, and I also made jewellery in silver for some shows. In showing work in the Gallery I learned what ideas appealed to an audience beyond myself, and what ideas didn't (I have a small collection of "eclectic" lamps to remind me of this!). But my craft practice wasn't my "real" job - I was a welder! But as the years slipped by and my obsession with taking workshops led me time and again to further my jewellery skills, I developed more focus in my designs. The Shop at the Craft Council approached me about selling my work there on a regular basis. That was another eye-opening moment - that my creations were seen as having legitimate value in a retail setting where the customer isn't necessarily coming in for an "artistic experience" as they would be in a gallery. As I made and sold more jewellery, and found that industrial welding wasn't very fulfilling creatively, I was motivated to make the shift to full-time craft practice. And I'm still loving it. It's an ongoing learning process, and luckily there are Craft Council members here who are generous with their knowledge and personal experience to help me when I'm stuck. It's a reassuring touchstone, knowing the Craft Council exists to serve craftspeople like me. I think it's also a phenomenon particularly relevant in Newfoundland & Labrador where craft has always been highly valued. Other provinces value craft in varying degrees too of course, and knowing that there's a network of craft councils across the country is a good feeling. The skills of craftspeople should be valued and our provincial and territorial craft councils exist to promote the integrity of the handmade object as well as preserve and develop the skills of the craftsperson.
|CCNL AGM on Fogo, hosted by The Shorefast Foundation and Wind & Waves Artisans' Guild (top: Fogo Island Inn, l-r: Tower Studio, a room at Fogo Island Inn, Squish Studio)|
|Studio visits. (At left, top to bottom: Wind & Waves Artisans' Guild, Adam Young - painter, Linda Lewis of Baynoddy (CCNL board member) demonstrates spinning for Wind & Waves Guild members. Center: Clem Dwyer - woodturner and husband of talented rughooker and our generous guide - Lillian Dwyer. At Right, top to bottom: Stages and Stores Economusee, Heather White of Seal Harbour Gallery, Winston Osmond of Herring Cove Art)|
Saturday, April 27, 2013
I love making big complicated one-of-a-kind brooches and pendants. Above is my newest Crystalline Collaborative brooch. I'm pleased with how it turned out. However, one-of-a-kind pieces are very time consuming, and I sometimes find myself overwhelmed with one piece of jewellery when I know I should be making more efficient use of my time. So I've also been looking for inspiration in repeated patterns. My thought is that if I can find inspiring shapes that would translate well into repeated elements, then I might find some efficiencies in my process, and still come up with an end product that has an involved and complex appearance that draws people in to look a little closer. So, no surprise, I'm turning to nature to find these patterns. Here are some images that I've collected out and about recently, as well as some experiments with arranging metal into different collectives of shape and form.
I will be working on these at my open studio event next weekend as part of the broader May Day Craft Weekend. I'm planning some wire earrings in patterns that might find themselves enameled at a later date. I hope you'll drop by Saturday or Sunday, 11am - 6pm and say hello. I'll also have a raffle to win a pair of my bronze-with-copper-rivet earrings. The rivets vary on each pair, and the winner can choose from my selection the pair that they wish.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Notes from Growing a Creative Economy: A Conference for Creativity Collaboration and Change, Cape Breton March, 2013
|Inside the Joan Harriss Pavilion.|
Growing a Creative Economy: A Conference for Creativity, Collaboration, and Change was hosted by the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design. The list of speakers and artistic presenters was bogglingly impressive. From internationally recognizable names in the arts to local representatives from the department of education, the range of speakers gave macro and micro perspectives on what works and what doesn't in developing an economy that supports its creative people. There were musicians, visual artists, spoken-word artists, educators, film makers, craftspeople, innovators, writers and dancers in attendance or giving presentations. From Newfoundland I was the only delegate to attend the conference, and David Hayashida from King's Point Pottery attended as one of the speakers. It was too bad there weren't more representatives from other organizations here in Newfoundland & Labrador who could attend. Perhaps next year. I attended both out of a personal interest, as well as as a representative for the Craft Council of Newfoundland & Labrador.
I took a massive amount of notes, but here, along with some photos, is some of what I gleaned from the 3 day event. Any errors in the accuracy of this information should be construed as my own, having occurred in transcribing. If you find any please let me know.
DAY ONELeslie Groves - Trends in Craft
- Staying on top of trends keeps your product relevant to a customer that is seeing the lifestyle they want (in contrast to need) depicted in magazines and media. Be aware of trends and find ways to tie your product into what's happening currently.
- Keep your shop fresh. Customers notice change. Rearrange product frequently. The experience of visiting your shop should not be a predictable one for them - there should be new surprises to catch their attention. Make it a sensory experience - thinking beyond just the visual.
- The customer should feel comfortable in the shop. Give them the information they need (price, purpose of product should be visible to them), and make the product accessible to them if they wish to touch it. If they're unsure of what something is used for, or of it's price point, or whether or not they're allowed to touch it, they feel intimidated and may not return.
- High risk can lead to high reward. Failures will happen. We must choose to use them as learning opportunities. Examples of "failures" in material manipulation that have been turned into valuable successes are the spalting found in wood, the oxidation of metals, or shino glazes in pottery.
- Innovation is something we are all capable of. It is simply a way of using existing things in new ways.
- Finding the success can take time. Embrace the "slow-cooker experience": allow ideas time to simmer. Get them recorded somewhere and return to them later.
- The Pareto principle: 80% of the profit will come from 20% of the product line. Work smarter on the right things.
- Four Steps to Success with Social Media: 1. Find Interested People, 2. Deliver Quality Content, 3. Capture Information, and 4. Stay in Touch.
- Get the greatest impact from your social media marketing by posting in the morning or evening. Avoid the hours of 2-5 pm.
- Content should be genuine. Provide a variety (photos, video, articles), and focus on the relationship (80%), not just the selling (20% - see "Pareto principle" above!).
- Measure impact: know how to read your analytics.
- Share content on other local sites whose customer base would be interested in your work (ie: share an event, or spring opening date, on the local tourism site).
Tracey Boutilier - Vibe Creative Group
Suzanne Rent - East Coast Living Magazine
Nicole Maclennan - CBC
- A press kit is a resume for your business.
- Customize your kit depending on your pitch.
- Professional photos are essential.
- Be concise!
- Follow up.
- Be bold.
DAY TWOBill Strickland - The Art of Leadership
- Beautiful environments create beautiful people. Prisons create prisoners.
- How people are treated drives their behavior.
- Art is a tool that engages kids in all aspects of learning.
- You can take one room and make the whole world out of it. Don't get hung up on the adequacy or lack thereof of the physical facility you have to work with.
Laura Lee Langley - Deputy Minister, Dept. of Communication, Culture, & Heritage
Ron Bourgeois - Chair, Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council
- In consultation with the creative community four key areas were identified as needing attention: 1. Greater recognition and appreciation for the contribution the creative sector contributes to the economy, 2. Listening and communicating better with government, 3. Making it easier to interact with government, and 4. Investing in the creative community.
- Out of this came the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council (which is composed of 2 government representatives, 1 member of ArtsNS, and 12 representatives from the broader creative community), as well as the creation of Film & Creative Industries Nova Scotia which encompasses the creative industries of film, music, publishing, craft, and design.
- Creating a permeability to the built environment. Everyone should feel welcome no matter the space.
- Seizing the current trend of "pop-up" art galleries.
- Empty storefronts are transformed by artists for the revitalization of the community.
- Property owners benefit from having a vibrant appearance to the spaces they are looking to lease. The spaces are leased to artists for $1 per month (yes, one dollar), and they are given 30 days notice in the event a permanent (full-price) tenant is found.
- Besides the artist and the property owner, a community partner is involved to help assess the project's suitability for the proposed space (to mitigate the level of inappropriate or controversial content visible from the street, in the chosen venue).
Rose Zack - Nocturne: Art at Night
Jamie MacLellan - Public Art Facilitator, Halifax Regional Municipality
- 85 - 100 art experiences throughout 5 "zones" in the city, at night.
- free event
- free transportation provided
- funding available to artists based on the budgets of their individual projects
- Attendance: 2008: 4000, 2009: 9000, 2010: 14,000, 2011: 20,000+, 2012: 24,000+
- (Predictable) Challenges: 1. Sustainability of funding, 2. Human resources/volunteers, 3. Maintaining quality of programming.
Keith Brown - Vice Pres. external, Cape Breton University
- "Artistic labour has the attitudes and skills conducive to innovation." R.Florida, cultural writer.
- The paradox is that cultural enterprises must be commercialized to be measurable in terms of economic impact. Yet the culture must exist as a a stand-alone entity in a vibrant way in order for sustainable and meaningful economic growth to occur from it.
- CBCCD represents 70 local artisans
- Their 5 year old building houses conference/exhibition space, craft studios and classes in the disciplines of jewellery, weaving, quilting, oil painting, and stained glass, a shop as well as a gallery.
- This year they have had a 15% increase in revenue over last year, and a 40% increase in gallery sales over last year.
- They have initiated the Artisan Trail Map as well as an accompanying app.
- Their goal is to become a member of The Creative Cities Network.
- Festival has grown beyond including just local musicians to include other creative disciplines, as well as musicians from afar.
- The focus remains on Celtic Colours being a festival for the local population, but the added attention from outside NS has enabled more local artists to make a living within the province.
- Began in 2004 as flooring supplier, but quickly switched to the new product line of cutting boards.
- Joined the CBCCD, and attended the Atlantic Craft Trade Show, and by 2010 were up to 13 employees.
- With a loan from ECBC, traveled to tradeshows across the US.
- Product is now carried by William Sonoma, and Saks.
- Their goal is to have their wood FSC certified.
- Found a solution to a problem.
- Developed, created and patented the High Hat Drop Clutch.
- Sought endorsements from reputable drummers.
- Found a gap in the local supply chain.
- Amassed the knowledge, hired the right people, and filled the gap.
- Passionate about partnering within the local community.
- Encountered a problem as a musician in staying organized.
- Found a solution in partnering with a local software guy.
- Saw the potential to offer the product more widely.
- Sought out local festivals to pitch to.
- Worked out the kinks locally.
- Now supplying product to international festival organizers.
DAY THREEGavin Sheppard - Creative Education for the Next Generation
- The Remix Project: a recording studio, business incubator, graphic design incubator, and health centre for at-risk youth in Toronto.
- Embracing the baggage the kids come into the program with - inviting them to unpack it all, make it into art.
- Every applicant gets an interview. For two reasons: 1. They deserve one, simply for putting themselves out there, and 2. in an area with high literacy challenges, it gives a broader perspective on the kid's abilities.
- The program is 9 months long, and steers participants towards post-secondary education. They are committed to work on their art a minimum of 10 hours per week and take a course-load composed of (mandatory) Transferable Work Skills and Interest Specific Classes, as well as being partnered with a mentor.
- Upon completion of the program, they may find employment with one of the Centre's two social enterprise businesses (on a contract basis only - with the goal of carrying on into the wider community), and they will be followed up with one year after graduation.
- There is a scholarship program established with Humber College, as well as a partnership with the local Board of Education to reintegrate suitable students back into the school systems as part of a co-op program.
- Funding for the space and administration of the program has been through corporate sponsorship, and for the programming itself through grass-roots fundraising initiatives.
- Shauntay Grant performed three powerful spoken word pieces.
- She coordinates a spoken word showcase and charitable poetry slam series called CommUNITY.
- Participants write a poem about their chosen charity and present it at the the poetry slam. Three judges from the audience choose a winner, and the money raised from admission to the event is given to the winning poet's charity.
- She has also partnered with a children's book illustrator, (Susan Tooke) to publish two of her spoken word compositions, Up Home, and The City Speaks in Drums with Nimbus Publishers.
Shane Perley-Dutcher - Aboriginal & International Recruiter, New Brunswick College of Craft & Design
- Facilitates the Ancestor's Project in collaboration with Beaverbrook Gallery: aboriginal artists return to their reserve to mentor youth.
- Solutions to the problem of finding employment in the creative sector: 1. Demonstrate to government the economic value of the creative economy. 2. Involving the private sector in master classes and intern opportunities. 3. Focus on arts education at an early age. 4. Increased accessibility to DIY and digital resources. 5. Encouraging the adoption of technology early in the process.
- Barriers to recruitment in the cultural industries are the competitive nature of the environment, as well as the necessity of being a self-starter. It is necessary to have a willingness to create one's own job - to have a strong entrepreneurial sense.
- A solution that can help creative people find/thrive within their niche in a creative economy is for educational institutions to offer courses in business skills.
- Public educational institutions can step up by engaging students in all curriculum areas in ways that promote creativity and innovation.
- Solutions that are in place in Nova Scotia's schools are the Artslinks and Artists in Schools programs. These programs are eligible for grant money.
- To provide support to young creative youth, communities can: 1. facilitate positive conversation around the economic benefits of a creative community. 2. recognize that art for art's sake is ok too. 3. support small grass roots venues. 4. offer mentorship opportunities. 5. have co-op programs in schools.
- Leah gave a moving stream-of-consciousness presentation of her experiences and challenges as a first year graphic design student.
- The conference concluded with an activity called The Next Steps Cafe. We brainstormed commitments to action that could be taken immediately upon our return to our communities that would help to grow and foster the ideas behind the creative economy model. The ideas from each group were collected and will be emailed out to every participant.
- My commitment was to compile all this info I've gathered and pass it along to other arts and education organizations in my community, with the hope that at next year's conference (for which there is great enthusiasm at the CBCCD) there will be a larger Newfoundland contingent.
|Carol Beaton, Exec.Dir. CBCCD|
|David Hayshida, King's Point Pottery|
|Weaving Studio, CBCCD|
|Pottery Studio, CBCCD|
|Jewellery Studio, CBCCD|
|Shop, Cape Breton Centre for Craft & Design|
|Well fed, everyday @ CBCCD|
|Day One @ the phenomenal centre for craft: CBCCD|
|Bill Strickland, Keynote speaker|
|Days Two & Three @ Joan Harriss Pavilion, beautiful building.|
|A collaborative activity during the conference.|
|The Big Fiddle @ the Joan Harriss Pavilion|
An art installation by Aaron Acosta.
|Painting by Kenny Boone, as part of his LIVE Paint by music project. Painting shown done at the studio of Otis Tomas.|
|A fabulous young band from Cape Breton, Bella Rebellion.|
|Shauntay Grant, spoken word artist extraordinaire.|