Sunday, November 28, 2010

Photographing Art Indoors

I sell my bead work on Etsy and therefore need to be able to photograph my brooches and necklaces for posting. In the summer, I take my pictures on the back deck, under a clear fiberglass roof that diffuses the natural sunlight perfectly.  But now it is dead winter, which in Oregon means very little natural sunlight. I have a bright studio with 3 windows, but it still isn't enough on it's own for good photos, so I turn to my trusty light box.
Above is a picture that I took this morning on a dismal grey day with the light box. Below is a picture of the same brooch I took outside on a nice sunny day last summer. Both look presentable.
My light box is nothing fancy. It's just a cardboard box with windows cut out of 3 sides and white tissue paper glued over the 2 side windows. 

Here's my lightbox set up on my craft table (my grandmother's yellow Formica table bought in 1950). I use 2 cheap ($10) lamps with very white florescent bulbs in them. The bulbs I use are made by Satco and are 5000K, which is one of the whitest lights you can get easily. I bought these at my nearest hardware store for about $4 each.. The K represents the whiteness of the light. A 5000K light is similar to sunlight. A 2700K light is more yellow and warm, which might be great for a bedroom, but not good for photographs. It's still classed as "soft white" but it does have a yellow cast. A 4100K light bulb is classed as "bright white", but still not the best for photography.  A 5000K bulb is classed as "Natural Light" and that's what I find is best.
 I position my lights very close to the ends of the box shining through the tissue paper (which diffuses the light). I use a piece of white poster board to lay in the bottom and curve up along the back of the box. I like to add a sprig of silk Ivy since I like to have a little something green in my photos (just my personal preference). Having lights at both ends helps to eliminate shadows.

I usually position my piece to one side so the light is better.  Sometimes I need to use the flash, and sometimes I don't, depending on how much light is coming in through the windows.
I use a DSLR now, but have taken photos for years with my little point and shoot digital camera and can't tell the difference between the two. You don't need fancy equipment to take indoor photos of your art work.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Green Man and Hair Jewelry

Autumn makes me change my color palette a bit. A week or so ago I got a great package of raku cabs and beads from Wondrous Strange. As a little bonus, she sent me this wonderful green face. I've always loved that verdi gris green with copper, so I thought I'd make an Autumn Green Man. The leaves are all a coppery gold color and the background is worked in green and copper seed beads. I thought it needed some type of little satellite, so I added a couple of bronze leaves on a chain. The beaded leaf is kept in place by a lapel pin on it's back.

A while back, I bought a "Helping Hand" pendant from Nan at Spirited Earth. Our last name means Green Oak in German and I give my husband an ornament every year for Christmas that is "Oak-ish" in some way. When I saw the acorn in the palm of this hand, I knew I had to give it to him. So I made a copper hook, added some beads and created this special ornament for him to hang on the tree this year.

And I had a request for largish hair barrettes, so spent last night creating this piece of Hair Jewelry. It measures about 3 and a half inches long by 1 and three quarters inches tall. The clip in back is adjustable so you can clip back just a little bit of hair or a whole lot.

And since I showed you my Hair Jewelry, now I'll show you my Hare Jewelry. I don't like pink, but I force myself to create items in that color because people like it and I can't totally refuse to carry pink bead work. But this pink was OK to work with (NEVER ask me to do Barbie Pink!) and I love the little Hare running against time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wings and Ears

I've been doing some fun projects these last couple of days. My friend Jillian sent me some wonderful beads along with a shard of a porcelain doll's head with the ear still on it. I knew she had some quirky finds and had told her to send me something I could bead for her. I got the ear  and decided to glam it up a bit. Maybe a porcelain doll that Cleopatra would have played with....
So here is her finished brooch. If she keeps sending me doll shards, we may be able to piece together a little Frankenstein's monster.

I also got some fabulous raku wings and Lentil beads (and an awesome face) from a great shop on Etsy called Wondrous Strange. Here's one of the wings I beaded as a brooch.
Tonight I'm going to the Art for Animals Auction to bid on some wonderful art. All proceeds benefit our local animal shelter.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Throwing a Little Vintage Into The Pot

Isn't she adorable? I was at an estate sale this week and I found this beautiful old photograph. The man behind the cash table said "She should have a home, why don't you take her home and make her part of your family". I agree, she needs a home, but since I have an over abundance of ancestors, I am offering her up to my Etsy customers. Do you need a sweet little girl in your family tree?
I've started offering vintage and antique items in my Etsy shop. I can't help it - I'm a sucker for anything old.
My favorite quote is "Anything old is sacred, anything new is suspect."
This old book is another find for my shop. It's a first edition copy of "Merry Hearts and Bold". The title itself is fabulous. I love the old illustrations and the stories teach lessons. Can't get that from a video game. The copyright is 1942.
I'm a sucker for anything beaded, but I really love old beaded purses. Scored this one at a vintage shop. Love the art deco design and the beads are teeny tiny.
This cinnabar bracelet is carved, not stamped like all of the new cinnabar is now.

This little dutch doll reminded me of one I used to have when I was a little girl (oh, so many years ago!)
I love digging through flea markets and garage sales looking for old treasure. So does my daughter, Bryn, which gives us a great Mother-Daughter activity to do together.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Selling on Etsy

I don't profess to be an expert on selling on Etsy, but I have sold some things and I get questions often from people wanting to set up shops who are intimidated about it. My advice - Just DO it!
Etsy is pretty easy, but it isn't a get-rich-quick-scheme and you do have to work it. My biggest piece of advice is NETWORK! Think of Etsy as your very own little shop in a VERY big mall. Think Thousands of shops. How are you going to get people to find your shop? You can wait for the few stragglers that happen to stumble on your shop - and you will make a few little sales, but if you want to make any money and share your product, you need to get the word out about your shop.

There are many ways you can do this. The easiest I have found is Facebook. I have almost 800 Friends on Facebook. Do I know them all personally? Not in your wildest dreams, but I Do consider them all as friends. I participate in a give and take relationship with them. I read their posts, I comment on some of them, I offer encouraging words when needed. But I also post any new items from my Etsy shop onto my Facebook page. I don't think of it as aggressive selling, I think of it more as offering my beaded pretty things to friends who may want to purchase them for themselves or as gifts. I keep it all very low key and friendly and warm. Other ways to get the word out are through Twitter, Stumbledupon, or Kaboodle, although I admit I haven't used them as much as Facebook.

Another key to Etsy is to have a blog. I use Google Blogspot because it is very easy to set up and maintain. I am not a computer whiz by any stretch of the imagination and I don't have a lot of expensive high tech computer gear either. Blogspot is simple and I find that most bloggers use it. I have made some fabulous friends from all over the world (and especially my Beloved England) through my blog. I post many of my beaded items on my blog, but I also use it for social posts, helpful articles and a monthly Give-Away that brings more readers to my blog and also rewards them. And it's fun to send out a new give-away brooch each month. It's like sending a gift to a special friend.

Joining an Etsy Team is another way of getting the word out. I belong to the Etsy Bead Weavers Team. They give great advice, create forum threads (which I admit I haven't figured out all the way yet) and link buyers and sellers together. If you type "Etsy Bead Weavers Team" into the search engine, you'll get a showing of all the shops that belong. It's a great support group and there are MANY Etsy teams out there to offer help.
So get creating and selling. It isn't hard and can be pretty enjoyable and profitable too. If you have questions about starting up your own shop, drop me a line. I'm always happy to help.
I'll post more on Etsy here at a later date - Just figured out how to take good indoor pictures of my brooches. Maybe I'll tell you how to do that next!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Busy with Steampunk

I have created 14 new brooches in the last week. Busy, Busy.
Some are my traditional beaded beauties like the one below:
And others are decidedly "Steampunk". If you don't know what that is yet, it's a marraige of Gothic and Industrial Victorian. They use lots of watch faces and clock parts to represent the connection of the eras and lots of cogs and gears too. But it also has the elegance of the Victorian age. I really like it. You will see lots of brass used in these pieces.
Some more Steampunk below:

All of these pieces are in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The End of Sunny Days

I went up to The Oregon Garden on Thursday. It was a glorious sunny day. I got lots of plants placed, ready for planting. Also had a little time to wander around the Garden with my camera and snap a few pics of the Autumn foliage.

I spent a little time in the Conifer Garden chatting with Doug.

The Witchhazels are SPLENDID just now.

We had a heavy rain on Friday and it has beaten many of these lovely leaves off of the trees. I'm glad I had the chance to see them before the rain. Now we have a week of gloomy, rainy days predicted.
I wish I could get one more sunny day. I have been VERY busy in my studio and have many new brooches, hairclips and necklaces to photograph. It's too dark in the house and on the porch now. I went out today and bought bright white light bulbs to use with my light box. The last ones I had were too yellow. Will experiment tomorrow to see if I can get a decent indoor picture. I have to come up with something  because winters in Oregon can be very long and dark and I don't want to wait until Spring to photograph my jewelry.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Winner!

I have been such a wicked girl. I've been so wrapped up in Halloween and Day of the Dead and beading and craft night with Bryn (my daughter) that I haven't been posting as much as I should have been.
But here I am to atone.
First of all, we have a winner of the Sepia Heart Brooch from last month.

She is (drum roll) Janet of Singing Woods! Congratulations Janet! Once again, a brooch that has one of Nan Emmett's cabs, makes it's way back to Texas.
So, I'm thinking "what do I offer for this month's Give-Away"..... Hmmmmm.... Maybe something sparkly for the Holidays.....

So leave a comment any time this month to win this Black and Green German Torch Brooch. The black torch centerpiece is vintage German glass. I almost kept this one for myself (although my jewelry box is overflowing with brooches I've kept), but I'm offering it with all my love to one lucky reader. And while I'm on the subject, I want all of you to know that I appreciate you coming to my blog to see what mischief I'm up to. You are all my best buddies, my comrades, my fellow artists and kindred spirits!