ArtistPostcardSkiles

Prepping for the last Holiday Show of 2014

Getting brooches and earrings ready for the Holiday Art Spree today…

I will have silver droplet pendants with me, ready to personalize.
Custom silver initial pendants

One type of item will be on surprise sale. You’ll have to show up to find out!

ArtistPostcardSkiles

Handmade for the Holidays at Rend Lake

 

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Find me at The Southern Illinois Art & Artisan Center Handmade for the Holidays Art Spree on Dec 6th and 7th, 2014 at Rend Lake, IL.

Rethinking self-promotion

As an artist selling my work online, I am constantly faced with finding the best way to reach potential customers and network with other likeminded artists.

  • I have always found in-person word-of-mouth to be the best advertising; better than online social networking, better than online ads, and better than print ads.
  • The second best method has been through teaching workshops, again one-on-one interaction. Online tool tips and tutorials or process photos often bring in a lot of interest as well.
  • Third best, and toughest for me to keep up with, are the special interest groups in-person and online.  They keep me around people with similar interests, good for the soul and for business.

Facebook business pages have been useful in the past but are becoming less and less relevant for small arts businesses as Facebook increasingly makes changes to make more money from business posts.  See the most recent upcoming changes here.

Another aspect of self-promotion for myself has been visibility on Etsy, where I sell my work online.  The site is overloaded with mass-produced and low quality goods, as well as legitimate high quality makers.  It’s difficult to be found and people no longer trust the site as a source of high quality handmade goods.  I believe customers will return to buying art/craft closer to home at regional markets and only purchase online from people they’ve already met in person, or a friend has met in person.

Keeping these factors in mind, I’m planning on some immediate changes to focus my promotional efforts.

  • I’ve deleted some social networking platforms am focusing on the few that I really enjoy.
  • I’m going to focus my various online activities toward education, sharing my metalsmithing expertise and my family craft activities.
  • I’m going to focus on regional shows, workshops, and one or two regional special interest clubs to build up the real in-person social network. I have started an email newsletter to maintain connections with my show customers.
  • I’m going to transition my ecommerce off Etsy, selling online with woocommerce here or Shopify.  Both have their pros and cons.

If you are a creative person who markets your work online as well as offline, how are you adapting your strategies to our ever-changing technologies and attitudes?
You can read how some of my friends promote their work at the following blogs.

1. Beth Cyr – http://BethCyr.com/blog
2. Nodeform – http://nodeform.com/blogs/news
3. http://www.fentondesign.ca/whats-happening

Speaking of self-promotion and regional sales, please come see me at the Handmade for the Holidays event at the Southern Illinois Art & Artisans Center this coming weekend!

Find me at The Southern Illinois Art & Artisan Center Handmade for the Holidays Art Spree on Dec 6th and 7th, 2014 at Rend Lake, IL.

Find me at The Southern Illinois Art & Artisan Center Handmade for the Holidays Art Spree on Dec 6th and 7th, 2014 at Rend Lake, IL.

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Hammered 18 k gold band, size 7.75.

I love working with gold

18 karat gold is my favorite. It’s a buttery yellow, works beautifully and easily takes on the soft satiny hammer textured surfaces that I use most often.

I used some a few days ago to make wedding rings for my husband and I, about 6 months late.

Wedding rings don't need to match.

Wedding rings don’t need to match.

My ring has a chased and repousséd heart attached to a hammered band. Eric’s ring is a simple yet rugged wide hammered band.

I made 3 more rings to put up for sale in my shop while I was at it.

Another chased and repousséd heart ring.

chased and repousséd 18k gold heart ring, size 4.45.

chased and repousséd 18k gold heart ring, size 4.45.

A narrow 18k band.

Narrow hammered 18k gold band, size 7.

Narrow hammered 18k gold band, size 7.

and a medium hammered 18k band.

Hammered 18 k gold band, size 7.75.

Hammered 18 k gold band, size 7.75.

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Mother Son science club project

My son participates in a school science club.  They recently had to pick 2 projects to make for a regional competition.  He chose to make a rubber band powered airplane and a catapult. For some reason, I thought he only had to choose 1 of the 2 and that he had chosen the airplane.  I felt confident that he could manage that one on his own with some balsa wood, glue, and an X-acto blade. About 3 days before the project was due, he made me understand that he actually needed to make a catapult too! My husband was out of town so this left me with the responsibility of helping him make a version of the torsion catapult that he’d found online.

I’m a metalsmith, not a wood worker!  I don’t like all of that sawdust.  I don’t keep a pile of 2 x 4s on hand.  Luckily, we had a stash of wood, nails and screws in the metal workshop.  Because our supplies were smaller than those shown on the website, we scaled his catapult down (visually, not mathematically.)   As you can see, after several evening work sessions, our catapult worked!

Ian’s torsion catapult 2014 from K. Skiles on Vimeo.

During the actual competition, the catapult had to shoot a ping pong ball 10 times in 2 minutes. We used nails more than screws, so my son reported that the tin basket flew off with the ping pong ball on the 5th shot.  He also said that the stop bar was starting to pull off from the stress of the swing arm whacking against it.

The whole time that we were working on the project, I felt like a teenager again, working on a last minute project.  I’m actually excited about these mechanical projects now and looking forward to next year’s competition, though next year, we will start much earlier.

By the way, the airplane was a fail, but we have better plans for that next time.

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Holiday Cookies!

Suggest a holiday discount!

The shop will be open today, Saturday the 22nd, until 3pm. Come by and see me. Soaps, foaming bath bars, and bath bombs are still 2 for $6 while they last.

Soaps, foaming bath bars and bath bombs on sale 2 for $6 while supplies last.

Soaps, foaming bath bars and bath bombs on sale 2 for $6 while supplies last.

Treat yourself!

Speaking of treats, what do you think would make a great holiday discount for Black Friday through Cyber Monday?

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November Blog-o-sphere time

November’s Blog-o-sphere Think Tank topic:  “What would you do if money wasn’t a factor?”

If I had enough money to do everything I wanted to do I would:

  • Take my family and travel around the world, nice leisurely educational travels. I’d love to re-visit Europe and Japan.  I’ve never been to China, Australia, New Zealand, Africa or South America.  I could spend years exploring the best parts of the world.
  • Take lots of classes and workshops.  Learn to do new things.
  • Set up scholarships so that more rural kids could get a 4 year college education without the burden of heavy student loans.  It seems to me that the biggest barrier to technological and social progress is a lack of education.  The more we can do to break that barrier, the more the world will benefit in the short and long terms.

What would you do?
Read what others would do by following the links to the blogs listed below.

Andes Cruz:  http://andescruz.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/anythinganywhere

Pallavi Gandhi: http://studioat605.wordpress.com/

Catherine Witherell:   http://happydayart.typepad.com

Beth Cyr – http://BethCyr.com/blog

Shelagh Blatz www.designsbyshelagh.com/blog

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Soaps, foaming bath bars and bath bombs on sale 2 for $6 while supplies last.

Soaps in the Showroom

Soaps, foaming bath bars and bath bombs on sale 2 for $6 while supplies last.

Soaps, foaming bath bars and bath bombs on sale 2 for $6 while supplies last.

Soaps, foaming bath bar and bath bombs on sale 2 for $6 while supplies last. I do not have these in my online shop, but please contact me if you would like to order them.  I am happy to ship.

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Me, and a few sketches.

Daily Sketching

I’ve always felt that it was important to spend at least 15 minutes a day sketching, much like a journal discipline. For whatever reasons, I have not maintained that habit over the past few years. I’ve started again and am taking photos as I go along. The practice is more important than the resulting drawing. The rules that I set for myself are to draw for 15 minutes, anything, even if a simple doodle. The drawing should begin and end as a sketch, not be developed into a finished piece. The drawings are meant to inspire creativity and help me identify the creative threads that weave through my subconscious.

Me, and a few sketches.

Me, and a few sketches.

Sometimes I sketch in my big sketchbook. More often I sketch on paper coasters and take a photo of the sketch. If I don’t lose (or use) the coaster, I glue it into my sketchbook later. I also carry around a small spiral bound sketchbook to use in the same way.  I use ink most of the time, so I can’t obsess or erase, but as you can see, I do use pencil, especially when working with figurative imagery.

One day I felt completely uninspired.  My toddler scribbled on a coaster, so I turned that into a zentangle inspired sketch.

Sometimes I work from photos, other times from whatever is easily accessible and inspiring.

I do occasionally try to make an actual digital sketch but somehow that doesn’t work for me.  I need the sensory feelings of pen on paper.  I do try to photograph each sketch but I’m not going to worry about posting them all online.  I will try to update here from time to time and will certainly point out if I see any threads from the drawings creeping into metalwork.

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Romantic Retro selections curated by EtsyMetal

Romantic Retro
curated by Etsy Metal on Etsy

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Chased and repousséd leaf progression #11

Gorgeous new fantasy leaf chasing

My second leaf warm-up was not a flop at all! It turned out beautiful.

Here’s the progression.

and here it is finished, front and back.

Chased and repousséd leaf progression #11

Chased and repousséd leaf progression #11

Chased and repousséd leaf progression #10

Chased and repousséd leaf progression #10

I still haven’t decided whether it will end up as jewelry or small sculpture.  What do you think?

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