I’m going to try something new, and hold a customer appreciation giveaway each month until the end of the year. If it goes well, I’ll continue the tradition in 2019. Since this new adventure begins on All Soul’s Day, I’m offering this handcrafted day of the dead mask as the very first handmade giveaway gift.
To enter, just send a photo of yourself wearing my work & allow me to share it on my sites + social media. There are several ways that you can share your photo – the very best way is to scroll down to use the handy form that I created just for this purpose, but you can also just share the images to Facebook or Instagram and tag me along with a comment that you’d like it to serve as a giveaway entry.
For each photo that you share, you’ll receive one entry good for the remainder of the year. For a second entry, share a story about who you are, what you do, and/or why my work resonates with you. And yes, you may submit photos that you’ve sent in the past, IF you include a damned good story!
Each month, I’ll draw one winning name. November’s winner will be chosen on Friday 11/30 at 6 pm PST
I’m doing this because your photos really do mean the world to me! I absolutely LOVE seeing my work out there in the wild, being enjoyed by cool people. More importantly, I love hearing your stories and learning about the amazing things that you do in the world! When you share who you are and why you enjoy my work, it motivates me to keep creating and to continue to improve.
Those photos and connections mean more than I can say. So I’d like to foster that, and to let you know how much I appreciate you. Thanks so much for supporting my craft, and for always inspiring me!
Just popping in to share a quick customer photo! Our kitchen remodel is in full effect, so the studio is still pretty quiet right now … but a client shared this recent photo of a custom cobalt blue imp mask that I made for her husband, and I wanted to share it here as well. I really love it when you send me pictures of my work “out in the wild”, it’s so rewarding to see these pieces being enjoyed!
Forgive me for being so quiet of late! I’m still creating, just haven’t been able to share much. Have been using this time to peck away at commissions, and giving time and space for new ideas to germinate.
This electric blue peacock mask was a recent custom order. I love how well it goes with this headpiece, and may just have to make another in this color way.
Found this little mini-mask kicking around the studio the other day… it’s an oldie, probably circa 1997 or ’98. I used to offer these as brooches and pendants. Haven’t made one in forever and a day, and didn’t think I had any left!
This is one of my most often copied designs. Like most original works, the design process took considerable time and effort, evolving over the course of many experiments and iterations.
The concept began in 2009, as a mistake that I liked and decided to explore further. Over the next year, I created several variations before settling on this version. Since then I’ve created various renditions with different color schemes and embellishments – but they’re all based on this one. These masks are attractive and affordable, and they’ve been good sellers for me. I’m certainly not getting rich off them, but over the years those sales have added up to pay my mortgage and they’ve fed my family many times. Please don’t mistake this as “money for nothing” – it’s the fruit of hard labor. I’ve been a working artist for nearly 30 years, so I’ve invested quite a bit of time and energy into honing my skills and developing my own style. Even after all these years, it still thrills me that the work of my heart and hands can not only feed my soul, but feed my family as well.
Sadly, this mask has been copied more times than I can count. Some do it for personal use – and while I certainly dislike that (if you enjoy my work, please respect, support and credit me) what really irks me are the copycat vendors! Over the last many years of selling this design, I’ve seen it copied by at least 8 other “artists”. These people misrepresent their crappy knockoffs as original work and then sell them alongside mine – often at wholesale or less. Between the cheap pricing and the fact that the design no longer seems original, it becomes harder and harder for me to sell it anymore.
I’ve also found people teaching this design. One class was offered at a popular leather store just a couple of hours away from me. It’s not clear whether the teacher offered the design, or whether a student asked them to help reverse engineer it – but that detail is irrelevant. An honorable teacher won’t show you how to copy off the internet, because to do so is counter to the spirit of good craftsmanship. If your instructor can’t offer original designs, find a new teacher – not only for the ethical reasons I’ve already described, but because it demonstrates a lack of knowledge and experience.
After that fiasco, I considered discontinuing the design and offering the pattern free for personal use only. I imagined this as a sort of ceremonial letting go; not only letting go of the design, but of all the drama and trauma surrounding it. Then my husband pointed out that with so many unethical creeps out there, offering the design for free might be seen as an invitation to copy all my work. Perhaps humanity is better than that, but based on these experiences, I’m not sure I’m willing to chance it.
Unfortunately, the saga of the stag mask doesn’t end there. Last fall, I was studying SEO and checking my keywords when I noticed an Etsy listing that looked oddly familiar. Upon further inspection, it was yet another copy of my design, and this time the copycat was from China. These guys were offering it for $19.99, which was a new low. In addition to stealing the design, they were using my photos to sell their counterfeit works. These photos came from a photo shoot that my daughter modeled for. So just to drive that point home: they were using photos of my child to sell bad copies of my work, for less than 20% of my price. “Pissed off” doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of my feelings about that!
I filed a complaint, and Etsy quickly removed the counterfeit listing. A month later I found the same design – once again with photos of my daughter – listed by a Chinese seller on eBay. Additional photos shown in that listing lead me to believe that they purchased one of my masks and flattened it out in order to reverse engineer the pattern. Once again, I was able to get the listing removed … but not before finding two more. These other sellers offered my stag mask along with several more of my designs – also using my photos. These last several months have been a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. I get one listing removed, and another crops up. It’s frustrating, time consuming, and costly… because all the time and energy that I’m spending to get these listings removed is time taken away from creating and selling my work. While this is definitely a business, it’s hard for me to detach emotionally from my creations (and my kid!) so this has really slowed down my creativity as well. That’s especially sucky, since this is my actual livelihood and not just a side hobby.
By early 2017, I thought it was over. Then friends began discussing the pros and cons of a well known overseas wholesale site, and I foolishly looked. Damn it, why did I look?! The mask is there, now offered in a variety of colors of laser cut felt. It looks terrible, and just when I thought it couldn’t be cheapened any worse, they’re wholesaling knockoffs of my mask for 79¢ each. Sadly, I’ve seen this happen to other artisans too – these knockoffs end up in cheesy party shops and dollar stores. So much for selling my masks as handcrafted art.
So, I’ll renew the battle and pray that I don’t find my design at Value Village come Halloween. In truth, it’s probably a lost cause at this point – between wanna-be artists, bad teachers and now Chinese knockoffs, I’ve lost my heart (and any future profit) for this design. But it’s the principle of the thing – I’ve been a working artist for more than half my life. In that time, I’ve aspired and succeeded at creating original, high quality work that feeds my spirit and pays my bills. I just can’t let these lowlifes exploit that effort without putting up a fight.
As this photo suggests, I’m already up to my elbows in Halloween prep! I’ve had several requests for custom costumes, so it seems like a good time to let everyone know that commission spots will be very limited this year. Like, extremely limited. So if you’re hoping to have something made from scratch to your specifications, you should definitely contact me soon! To order a one of a kind costume piece, please visit the “Custom Work” section of my website, and fill out the inquiry form there. This form outlines the info that I’ll need in order to understand your project, and it will really streamline the process for both of us. My commission spots fill up quickly, so please don’t put this off!
Last but not least, I’ll be adding a small selection of unique, one of a kind masks and costume accessories this year. Keep an eye on my website, as well as my Facebook fan page, in order to see these pieces as they’re added.
And just to reiterate: Halloween commissions will be very limited this year. If you’d like a custom costume, now’s the time to get in touch. Please don’t be one of those silly people who contacts me three days (or even 3 weeks) before Halloween in hopes of commissioning a one of a kind piece!