Monday, February 23, 2015

Unintentionally Devaluing Your Work

In 2013 I showed in a local Christmas gift show at the convention center. I was told by local artists that the show is packed with shoppers buying merchandise. That was true, there were many shoppers, but they were buying gifts in amounts of $30 and under. I did sell some jewelry, but my pricing is $50 and over. I made enough to pay my fees, and made some contacts for custom jewelry work.

I debated doing the show again in 2014 since I knew the price points were low, but I figured I'd give it another shot. This year, I did something I'd never tried, I decided to sell cheaper jewelry mixed in with my custom jewelry. My thought process was, by getting the shopper to stop and look at the lower priced items, they might buy my more expensive pieces.

Wrong! What happened was, they were confused as to why some pieces were less than $20 and my other custom pieces were over $50. What I did was attract the wrong buyer. It didn't sell my work any better. In fact, it devalued my work and I sold less this year!

I was even insulted by customers! One lady looked at a custom, one of a kind ring with the price of $45 on it and then looked at me and said, "Who would pay that much for a ring!?!" Then she walked away. I wanted to shout at her and tell her how many hours it took me to make that ring. The stone was a hand-made dichroic glass I made by cutting glass, stacking it and firing it to the melting point.

Another customer stopped and looked at my hollow cross, her eyes lit up. I thought I had a sale! She walked across the isle and grabbed her friend bringing her to see my cross. She said, "Isn't that the most gaudy piece of jewelry!" They both laughed and walked away.

Lesson learned. If the price point of a show is too low for your art, don't do it and don't lower your standards.

Until next time, have fun claying around!

by Janet Alexander 
Technical Adviser

Monday, February 16, 2015

Group Inspiration

This week I'm heading up to Baltimore for the 3rd annual American Craft Council (ACC) extravaganza and sleepover with Donna Penoyer, Vickie Hallmark, and Cindy Silas. This year we'll be joined by Lorena Angulo. What a line up of creative inspiration!

I actually own this small sculpture by Kirsten Stingle.

Vickie is selling her jewelry in the wholesale show, and Lorena is selling hers in retail. The rest of us are along for the ride and to "walk the floor". Every kind of fine craft will be represented, from fiber to ceramics, to woodcraft, to the best and most imaginative jewelry, and more. Well, it's all the best and most imaginative - whatever discipline it is. I've noted the booth numbers of some of my Facebook 'friends' and I'm excited that I'll be able to meet them in person! There will also be quite a few artists there from Los Angeles who I used to do the Contemporary Craft Market with.

Emily Watson is one of the FB contacts I'll be looking for.

Everyone should try to get to a world class show like this at least once. ACC presents shows in Baltimore, Atlanta, San Francisco, and St. Paul. They also put out a fabulous magazine called "American Craft". I highly recommend you subscribe. The Sculptural Objects, Functional Art & Design Fair  (SOFA) takes place in Chicago. I haven't gone yet, but Vickie is a regular. Next year for sure!!

Liz Frank and I met in the movie business an eon ago. It will be fun to see her again.

Google 'fine craft show' to see if there's something going on closer to where you live.

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor

Monday, February 9, 2015

Adjusting for Shrinkage!

I had someone write to me asking about metal clay shrinkage. It's been discussed in this blog a little bit. Here is what Linda Kline wrote about in November 2013

What is the formula for adjusting your clay size for shrinkage? First, it depends on the clay you are using. Each clay type has a different shrinkage value. Draw your design at the desired finished size. Scan your drawing into a printer and adjust for shrinkage by enlarging your design according to the clay type you are using. PMC3 and PMC Flex have a maximum shrinkage of roughly 15% (.15) when fired at 1650F for 2 hours. It can be less if fired at a lower temperature and for a shorter time. The enlargement factor for 15% shrinkage is 118%.

Here's how to calculate the enlargement factor.

Step 1
Subtract the expected clay shrinkage percentage from 1. In this case the clay has a 15% shrinkage rate.
1 - .15 = .85 (Another way to think of it is 100% - 15% = 85% or .85.)

Step 2
Divide 1 by the resulting number: 1/.85 = 1.18 or 118%

If firing the clay at a shorter or cooler firing schedule then base the calculation on the lower end of the shrinkage scale (10% - 12% in the case of PMC3, PMC Flex, or PMC+).
Here is a simple chart for other clay shrinkage so you won’t have to do the math.

Until next time, have fun claying around!

by Janet Alexander 
Technical Adviser

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Profiles in Artistry - Gabriella Kiss

As a "late in life" jewelry maker (and teacher), I find inspiration for metal clay work in the work of others. Fine jewelers, ceramists, cabinet makers (woodworkers), painters, etc. Not to say I copy what they do, but if I'm attracted enough to a person's work, I find that upon closer examination their aesthetic closely mirrors my own. In the small details of their voice, I find an element that I can harmonize with. Today's profile was originally put on Vimeo, from whence it has since been deleted. I highly encourage you to click on this to see a video profile on the fabulous goldsmith Gabriella Kiss.

Posted by Lora Hart
Artistic Advisor