Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The inspiration of others

What a fabulous fun filled weekend!  This past weekend was the AGM for the Craft Council.  On Friday we traveled down the Southern Shore to visit the studios of Nicola Hawkins, Peter Sobel, and have lunch at Five Island Art Gallery.  It's so refreshing to see other people's creative environments.  Nicola and her husband have transformed an old church into the most mind blowing home and studio space.  Truly a multi-talented woman.  It will be exciting to see her upcoming show at The Rooms after the sneak peak she gave us.  Lunch was lovely at Five Island Art Gallery, surrounded by the artwork of so many accomplished painters, as well as the rugs of Laura and Sheila Coultas.  The gallery is a beautiful space in an old schoolhouse.  We had a lovely day for a walk after lunch, and Vicky showed us where the East Coast Trail connects in Tors Cove.  Beautiful vistas.  And you've got to love small old towns where they leave the church unlocked.  Old-school woodwork in there.  Attention to the details.  In Witless Bay we were an entranced audience as Peter Sobel peppered us with his boundless ideas and plans, and showed us his clay and painting studios, as well as his gallery, garlic beds, and finally his home, where his wife joined us and we spent the rest of the afternoon eating cookies with beverages and watching the gannets and whales out in the bay.  Phew, and that was just Friday!  Here's some pictures:

Saturday evening was potluck and slide show night.  If there's a better combo out there I don't know what it is.  The brie and chive biscuits I brought were a big hit - thanks Cecily!  John Goodyear showed and explained to us the evolution of his work and some of the woodworkers that inspire him.  It adds so much to hear where an artist's ideas come from, it gives the work more substance in a way.  Isabella St.John then showed us a selection of slides that earned her the contract to make the lantern-like forms that the lucky recipients of the EVAs took home this weekend at their awards gala. 
Sunday was the AGM, and I will say I was a bit leery of going.  I've never attended an annual general meeting before, and I feared it might be hard to stay awake.  But it wasn't!  It was very interesting.  I hadn't realized how interconnected the different parts of the Craft Council really are.  And everyone cares about the success of all the other parts.  I won't deny it was a long meeting though, and it has taken a bit of time to find the creative spark I felt after the creative injection we got on Friday and Saturday.  But it's great to feel a part of a craft community that is so supportive. 

Please take some time to peruse the links below for info on some of the artists I encountered on this great weekend:
http://www.csda-ccad.org/ornSpring2010Domestic.cfm  (Article on Nicola Hawkins)

And three woodworkers John Goodyear showed us the work of:


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Not all the same beast

Craft fairs are puzzling.  Each one is so different from the last.  I'm finding that there's no set-in-stone expectation for the atmosphere, the sales, or the customers.  I was anxious about the fair this past weekend, because for the most part I was flying solo, with no booth sitter, for three days.  However it was a fair unlike any other on which I'd based these anxieties.  The craft tables were set up just off the lobby in the Sheraton hotel, and we were invited there to display our wares for the national AGM of the RCMP Veteran's Association being hosted here in St. John's.  So the venue was comfortable in the extreme.  We had access to coffee and muffins and pastries all day.  The room was spacious and inviting.  Washrooms were conveniently close at hand.  But sales were sluggish to non-existent for the first day and a half, and there were great lulls of inactivity whilst the vets were in their meetings.

Which leads me to ponder how long craft fairs in general should be in duration.  People do like to browse, and ponder what they've seen, and have time to come back.  But I do think that given this time to peruse and ponder, people will not purchase less, if the fair is shorter, than they would if it were longer.  A few of us punched a VERY long second day at this fair, and my sales did begin in earnest at 10pm that night.  Most purchasers saved their spending for the final day, as would seem logical, since it was their last opportunity.  Marketing to visitors also is different, since they know, for all intents and purposes, that if they want what they see they should buy it now.  But they wanted to see it all before they made a final purchasing decision, and fair enough, which meant we had to wait till the final day of the convention for them to have seen all they could when they were out and about on bus tours and the like.  The customers were lovely though, and it was such an happy group of people to be on the periphery of, as they reminisced and recounted tales of their varied postings across this country over the years.  At right is how my last day of the fair began.  Not too shabby!

I was inspired this week by the postings of Island Sweet to carry my camera on my evening walks.  Because the same old same old is really quite beautiful when you remember to look with fresh eyes!

Monday, May 16, 2011

A few 'snaps': The last link in the chain of events.

The fun of jewellery is in the making.  I do not find the fun in the labeling, pricing, packaging, and photographing.  Not so much.  It has become the necessary tedium.  So today, with the hint a a little sunshine, after days of dreariness, I decided I'd change up the tedium a bit and try photographing my new jewellery outside.  Usually I use a lightbox, with somewhat, but not very adequate lights, and a branch to hang the jewellery on placed in the box.  However the branch is not exactly horizontal, nor is it inclined to remain steady.  It is an exercise in extreme patience to photograph things on it.  Earrings especially.  They wiggle, and twist.  So, outside I went.  While I don't think I saved time doing it out there, I think the fresh air was calming.  And there were flowers.  There were, inevitably, different variables to contend with; ah, yes: the wind, and the branches that are ideal for hanging jewellery seem (right now, in this time of barely spring) to be growing unnecessarily close to the ground.  But I was, overall, pleased with the results.  Here's some of what I've made recently and will be selling in the lobby of the Sheraton this coming Thursday, Friday, and Saturday during the National RCMP Veteran's Association Convention:  (The last image shows a bit of my set up for taking the pictures outside.) (AND if anyone wants to offer a tutorial on aligning photos in Blogs without having to know HTML, I'd be eternally grateful!!!)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Getting back into the swing of things.

Well, I knew I'd be busy when I first got home, but whew! I'm just now getting my feet under me after being back for well over a week.  The MayDay YayDay fair was great fun.  What a beautiful venue.  Many long days could be eased by their proximity to a very fine bakery I think!

I filled this past weekend up with a workshop on Saturday: mould-making with John Bear.  Geared towards potters, but I think I can adapt it somewhat to working with metal.  I must look up how durable plaster of paris is when molten metal is poured into it.... I think Susan Stopps may have mentioned something about that during our casting week.  It sure would be nice to make moulds I could use more than once when I eventually get the right equipment for dealing with molten metal.  And on Sunday, H and I went panning for gold.  Yes.  Seriously.  We also seriously didn't find any.  But it was a great day to be tramping about in the woods.  Tea and herring over a fire.  Nothing better.

Now I'm trying to put my nose to the grindstone and make some production jewellery.  I'm signed up for a table at the RCMP Veteran's Association Convention next week, being held at the Sheraton Hotel.  We'll be set up in the lobby for 3 days, so a comfortable and very public venue, that I expect will draw members of the general public as well.  I'm still working on making a quantity of new designs that are "fair friendly".  It's been a challenge trying to focus on what I can make now with the tools I have, after being spoiled with such a well equipped studio in Haliburton!  It's tougher than I expected that's for sure. 

I do love riveting, and I like the texture I get with my riveting hammer, so I've been using those techniques.  I also have some copper fuming over ammonia to patina it.  I'd like to find some sawdust so I can get more interesting effects with that.  Below is the first rinse and scrub: imagine if that blue would stay on the metal!

But now I must get out for a walk before the day is done.  And find some chocolate.  Yes I do believe I hear its call....