Purpose and plans

Lots going on, exciting changes, but haven’t been blogging because ???? same old same old yawn you bored yet? But there are some concrete things to point to now, and some of them might actually be interersting to the 5 or so people who still read this blog ;). Bear with me for a moment -

So I read a blog post yesterday that set my head a-spinning. “Hate blogging?” it said (paraphrased). “Here’s how you can get out of the “I have to have a blog!” trap.” And it felt right, and like a relief, even though I hadn’t done anything yet, so I’m going to start implementing the post’s recommendations.

Effectively, this blog will be going away – at least in its current mish-mash, can’t-decide-what-it-wants-to-be once-in-a-blue-moon form. The content will be sifted and reorganized into a series of articles where there’s no expectation that they will be regularly added to. Blog posts will probably be limited to BIG news and updates. This will obviously all take a while for me to implement, but at least I’m motivated to *do* something about it instead of wanting to run away at the mere thought, which is where I’ve been for the last few years!

(And yes, I know a bunch of stuff in the sidebar and such is broken. Working on it.)

Aaaanyway. In other news: most of my artistic efforts in the last year have been devoted to crafting, shiny hanging things and jewelry mostly. The crafting part of my creations is being produced under the name of Rainlight Crafts, and is being sold on Etsy as well as… the occasional real life event! Yes, after six years I’m tentatively dipping my toe back into the craft fair circuit. My first attempt was aborted almost before it began by that car accident (you know, that one. I won’t go into it all again.) But we just had our first event at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary’s Beltaine festival, which went phenomenally well. We will be returning there for Drum’n’Splash in July and possibly Stones Rising in September. I’m looking into other events local to Pittsburgh that are relatively low-cost and low-dynamic – possibly Confluence, possibly something in the I Made It! Market area, we’ll see. But I’m excited and hopeful. I discovered this last weekend that I actually really enjoy vending, and hearing what my creations mean to the people buying them.

Necklaces hang from wooden boards on a table draped with fabric.

Testing out displays before a vending gig.

One woman bought a tiny trinket to hang in her cube to remind her that she has a life outside of it.

One woman wanted a stone to remind her of the Standing Stones at Four Quarters, specifically the first one she saw raised.

Still others would cast their eye over my collection and be seized by one that MUST BE THEIRS. RIGHT NOW. And it is something I’ve *always* loved as a creator, to see my work make that connection with a total stranger, to have that bond between two humans flash into existence out of nowhere. For whatever reason those creations right now are the ones made from wire and stone, not paint, but I’m sure I will return to paint someday. My chosen medium shifts with the years and the seasons as does my subject matter and style, and that’s okay. It’s just who I am, and my business needs to not just accommodate that, but thrive on it!

One thing I really would like to do in the future is figure out a way to incorporate my paintings into my crafts by incorporating tiny reproductions. It’s percolating, as my ideas do, and will come out when it’s ready.

I have also updated and expanded my offerings at RedBubble, and will be continuing to do so – shirts, pillows, posters, cards, phone and tablet cases, so many neat things! I’m also looking into Spoonflower and Patreon to get more of those passive income streams going. My family is living off dreams and gratitude these days as we attempt to forge our way independent of regular paychecks and human resource departments.

Speaking of family, my husband has started a company that is working on really awesome stuff for the people who run and attend genre cons, whether they be SFF, steampunk, anime, comics, etc. It’s called ConBuilders, and I designed the logo. Check it out if you are so inclined!

In addition to the blog changes, I will be attempting to incorporate my craft work into the overall Fire Sea Studios website – another change that will take its sweet time, I’m sure, but things are moving now, moving where they’ve been stuck for a long, long time. This is good.

I have purpose, I have plans. I banish panic, I banish perfectionism! Full speed ahead.

Life is good.

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Isn’t Life Just an Experiment Anyways

Okay, so obviously the posting what I make every day thing isn’t working for me. The whole process of getting photo from phone to computer to post is just too darn lugubrious. Either I change my workflow or I change my goals. Trying a little bit of both now, with the following three pics – this really cool nail polish pendant that turned out *way* better than I expected, and a bookmark which is neat but not photographing well, plus a little sleep-deprived silliness with filters.

That is presuming I can get Instagram’s embed code to work. *pokes code* Hmm. Well, drat. You’ll have to make do with links for now. I think I just need to get A to update my WordPress already. *sigh*

A wire-and-bead bookmark, plus silly WowFX filters.

The bookmark IN ACTION!… uh… in a book.

A nail polish pendant that turned out WAY better than I expected! I’m gonna make more of these…

Also put a new listing on Etsy, for this spiral suncatcher that turned out to be *really* hard to describe!

A spiral suncatcher with multicolor glass beads hanging from an evergreen tree.

But regardless, I have been making stuff, and making progress in my greater business plans. Actually came up with INCOME goals today! Holy cow. I’ve never been able to do that before!

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Bookmarks and Trivets

Didn’t get around to photographing yesterday and today’s experiments, but they were made, and so I document!

In working on the bookmark I discovered that wrapping scotch tape around the jaws of my metal pliers does in fact prevent them from scratching the color off of copper-filled wire, so yay!

In doing the trivet I reminded myself that waxed thread stretches, which is annoying when you’re doing something woven and it gets all stretched out by the time you’re done. Pondering a solution to that one.

Tomorrow is slated to be the coldest day I can ever remember in Pittsburgh – wind chill may be as low as -38! So, of course, my son has the day off school, and my husband has dental surgery. I’ll give myself a pass if I don’t manage to post tomorrow :P

Oh, and just to get some kind of something in here, I did get another listing up on Etsy, a rainbow suncatcher/wall hanging! It’s quite pretty. I’d keep it if I had somewhere to put it!

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Experiments Day 3

My big news of the day was discovering that my brand new Etsy shop has made a sale! I’ve done no promotional work on the thing so was seriously not expecting to get any traction for several months at the very least! Equally exciting if not quite as… positively so was the discovery that the Etsy iPad app is still so horrendously buggy that it does not actually tell you if you’ve made a sale, so it took me a week to realize that it had happened. Whoops. Learning experience, for sure! Fortunately the buyer was delightfully understanding, and I got it out within hours of reading the email, barely avoiding running down several family members in my, um, enthusiasm?

 

Anyway. Even with that I got a little crafty experimentation done today. I love these colored craft wires, but pliers just strip the colors right off. I have nylon-jawed ones, but they’re thick and clumsy. I wonder if wrapping my needle noses with tape or some such would help… hmmm…..

 

6 twisted wire rings in shades of purple and various sizes, next to a bottlecap to show scale

1/4/14's experiment: twisted wire rings. Some worked better than others!

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Day 2: Alcohol inks!

I’ve been dying to try alcohol inks for a while now. The abstract effects, the complexity of the patterns, the intensity of the colors! Especially that last. But I’ve invested so much in the paints I have that I was reluctant to take the potentially quite expensive leap to a completely new medium. Until my beloved spouse brought me a few bottles as a holiday gift. And oh, I am hooked. I will not be leaving my familiar acrylics and inks behind, but for certain applications and effects these will be invaluable, and for remembering how to just sit down and play with color? I don’t know of anything better!

Some of my experiments below. I’ve played with two sets of colors: a pink and purple blend, and a green and blue blend, on a variety of materials. The papers you see are basically glossy card stock; the ovals are metal, meant for jewelry stamping or somesuch; then I think there’s a wooden circle in there, a glass circle, a bottlecap, a metal dragonfly (again a jewelry component)… you get the idea. Oh, a ceramic tile, too. This stuff can go on any non-porous surface, and any porous surface that you’ve sealed well enough! And oh, the colors. Did I mention the colors?

Photo time!

Cards, metal ovals, and a metal dragonfly painted with pink and purple alcohol inks

An assortment of my initial experiments.

clouds of blue and purple in abstract, floating layers, an alcohol ink painting

Did I mention those colors?!?

 

A metal oval painted with a pattern of blue and purple alcohol inks

Alcohol inks applied to a metal oval, before...

A metal oval with a pattern of purple and blue alcohol inks on its surface, and "i will fly" written in black sharpie
…I applied text and a border with sharpie, also alcohol-based.

 

Green and blue alcohol inks form an expressionistic forest landscape

And here is my first attempt at something vaguely respresentational in this medium. Sky! Forest! Trees! Blotches!

 

A green and blue alcohol ink painting, decorated with childlike scribbles in black pen

And finally, my kid's contribution to the party. There's a baby eagle, and his house, and another baby fell out of his nest, and.."

 

I watched a variety of video tutorials on this stuff, and of course can’t find any of the useful ones again now… and I really would like to figure out what the hell this “Yupo” is that they keep talking about!

 

Anyway. That’s day 2. I really have to figure out how to trim these posts down.

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So as the New Year begins….

I’ve never been one for resolutions, New Year’s or not. Just more pressure to put on myself, and I put enough pressure on myself as it is! But it is ordered pressure, with direction and purpose, so maybe, just maybe, I’ll give it a try. Just once.

I’m always experimenting with new artistic mediums. Paint, wire, clay, metal, glass, paper, bottlecaps…. and at the same time I often feel like I’ve forgotten how to just play, with no goal beyond the process and learning. So maybe I’ll document the play, rather than just the final products, which have so much perfectionistic pressure on them that I end up not documenting anything (like I have for the last um mumble years ahem). It can be as little as an instagram photo, as much as a full painting or craft project. But something. And I will blog that something as often as I can. No less than once a week, hopefully every weekday.

From this resolution I hope to bring these qualities to greater abundance in my life: Play. Learning. Memory. Progress. Experimentation. Anti-perfectionism. Exploration. Trust.

 

Three paper quilling experiments: a yellow rose, another orange flower, and a black bat

Experiment for January 2, 2014. Paper quilling, two flowers and a bat

 

With that prelude, here is today’s experiment! Paper quilling, co-starring my 7-year-old son Aiden. Playing with coils of colored paper, held together with a dot of glue. Looking at pictures of fantastic quilled creations online, and watching videos of the basic techniques. Aiden got bored of making the actual coils quickly, so ended up arranging the ones I passed to him. The bat is all his. The rose was the most challenging, but definitely something I’ll come back to!

I’m currently resisting the urge to run back out to Pat Catan’s and buy more colors of quilling paper. This will also be a good craft for days when I’m more physically disabled due to pressure changes or medication problems.

 

The videos I found most useful in today’s experiment were these:

 

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Announcement! New Ventures Ahead

So yes, this blog has been mostly silent, and it certainly would appear as if the website has not been updated in forever. This is true. My center is so far from blogging right now that I’m finding even the writing of this simple update to be torturous in the extreme! But I do have big news to impart, as however absent I may have seemed from the online ‘spheres I’ve been far from idle. While I’m still painting, of course, I’m also crafting with beads, wire, paper, and wood, and have refined those works to the point where I need to start trying to get them out of the overflowing drawer I’ve been stashing them in for the last year!

A friend of mine, in a similar state, and I have just opened a new Etsy store, called Rainlight Crafts, of beaded artworks and accessories. I’ve been specializing particularly in the Tree of Life concept and star motifs, both favorite symbols of mine from way back. My overarching goal is to create talismans that will remind people of their centers, their ideals, and the spark of light that remains no matter how oppressive the dark.

So I’d be thrilled if you’d go and check it out! As a special Grand Opening sale, if you link to Rainlight on Twitter, Pinterest, or Facebook and send me the post via an Etsy convo, I’ll give you 10% off anything in the store.

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Observations from putting on a 7-year-old’s birthday party (with him and a dozen of his friends)

Party favor-like things that should not be put into a pinata:

  • puzzle cubes
  • spinning tops
  • anything that would break when hit with a hammer over and over again :P

Make sure you put extra favors and extra extra favors in said pinata to account for the two or three last-minute RSVPs and the one who your kid forgets to tell you is coming. Also, a 2-ft length of PVC pipe is perfect for a beating stick.

But overall, pinatas are awesome fun and a huuuuuuge hit with everyone there. I was very pleased that the venue allowed us to have one in the party room – most places blanch and back away slowly when you say the word. Michaels is a great place to have a party! The staff was competent, friendly, and great sports at kid-herding. Probably would have been better had we had no more than 8 kids, though!

Amazingly, everyone had fun. Once stuff was set up and most of the kids had arrived, all I really had to do was step out of the way and gently direct the chaos from time to time. That being said, though, I nearly had a panic attack a time or two from the noise and crowd. Thank goodness I had two or three other competent adults in the room at all times.

I am vaguely weirded out when kids I barely know come up to me and start asking to come over for playdates or inviting us to come to Kennywood with them.

Social dynamics are starting to emerge in which I have odd reverse-deja-vu flashes of who all these kids will be in high school. Personalities are in full swing. My kid? The class clown with a soft heart. He loves everyone, but gets in way over his head without realizing what’s happening. Schoolyard politics are going to hit him *hard* and I don’t know how to prepare him for just how mean kids can be.

I am hoping this will lead to my being able to be more involved with his classmates and their parents, getting out more, etc. I hermit too easily, and while I am comfortable and happy in my hermiting, Aiden is too much of a social creature for me to limit him that way. And from what I saw yesterday, some of his friends are pretty darn cool and have equally cool parents.

Now if I could just stop getting sick every time I push my envelope a little bit.

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Why I cannot, will not, focus on “selling”

Holy crap epiphany must stop and write this down.

Okay. Megan’s writing about selling, the concept of selling being more useful as a result than an action, and that resonates, but it led right to a light bulb about why I have such trouble with anything around marketing.

So, the purpose of my art is to connect with ideas, right? To communicate. To that end, I want/need to connect with everyone who sees my work, and get more people to see it. This leads also to a visceral rejection of prioritizing selling/marketing/influencing people into giving me money because then I focus only on those potential viewers with disposable income and ignore all the other eyes like they don’t matter. The one in a hundred true fans idea, as much as it may be a working formula, erases and disrespects the other 99 who may still get something out of seeing it that is far more important than any money you could come by.

Now, I concede that living in this world still has the regretful necessity of money to survive and obtain the resources to keep making more art. But I find that any emphasis whatsoever on marketing, selling, business, any of those money-related words, distorts my fundamental purpose in making art by warping my focus towards only some people at the expense of others, and I REFUSE to do that.

Do I have a solution yet? No, not yet. I most likely have things to learn from the guerilla art, street art, media hacking movements, as well as the sacred economics crowd. But I must remember at all costs that the fundamental reason for doing what I do is to communicate, and prioritizing those eyes that may have money is NOT neutral but in fact masssively destructive of that goal.

I know this is right because I feel it from the other side. Whenever I go into a store or gallery to browse and feel ignored by those working there as soon as it is clear I don’t intend to or can’t buy. (Not that I blame the workers, it is intrinsic to the setup.) Whenever I feel less worthy of commenting on a work because I’m not a potential buyer, so why should they listen to me? Whenever I feel the push to magnify my potential as a consumer in order to make myself be heard by a seller or a creator.

I have gotten my share of compliments and comments on my work over the years, and every time the one who talks about how my art connects with them personally sticks with me, motivates me far more than the one who drops cash on the counter and leaves with one of my works. The latter may make it easier for my rational mind to justify continuing on this path, but the former gives me the will to keep going despite the knowledge that the odds of my becoming widely recognized, famous, or rich on this stuff is less than that of being struck by lightning.

This is at the heart of why I have no will to sell. While even those most profit-driven entrepreneurs might point out that it is merely a means to the end, for me it is a means that destroys the very point of the end. If I’m going to privilege some eyes, some voices, some people over others, I might as well be standing on their necks as I try to keep my head above water, and I’d rather drown.

Now, if I can just remember how to post to my blog….

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