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2018 Winter Holiday Shipping Dates

2018 winter holiday shipping deadlines

It feels a bit early for this post, but time flies SO quickly!

With that said, here are my 2018 Winter Holiday Shipping Deadlines:

✫ USA:
1st Class Mail – order by December 15th
Priority Mail – order by December 18th
Priority Express Mail – order by December 20th

✫ INTERNATIONAL:
1st Class Mail – order by December 1st
Priority Mail – order by December 5th
Priority Express Mail – order by December 12th

These are my best estimates for probable delivery by 12/25.

Expedited shipping options (such as Priority Mail and Priority Express Mail) are available at checkout.

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A Small Shop Update

Upon returning from the Thanksgiving holiday, I promptly came down with an epic flu. Two weeks later, I am finally moving and functioning again – albeit slowly. Last night I managed to list most of the goodies that I’d been working on before we left.

This includes a variety of handcrafted wooden hair sticks in natural hardwoods and colorful laminates. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to learn that I really enjoy woodworking! These hair sticks reflect some of my simpler early efforts, though I hope to offer a much wider variety in the year ahead. I’ve been experimenting with different types of wood, different lengths, and of course, different shapes. I think that these will make a great addition to my existing line of hair accessories.

But before I get ahead of myself by talking about what I hope to make next, let me tell you a little more about today’s offering: these are small to medium sized hair stick pairs, measure between 5.5″ and 5.75″ long. The shape is a graceful wave that slides easily into a small bun or half up.

The laminated birch options include 3 color variations: burgundy/grey/violet striped, autumn stripes, and summer stripes. The natural hardwoods include walnut, paduk, and cherry. All have been hand sanded down to 600 grit, and finished with a blend of mineral oil and beeswax so the rich color comes through without being too shiny or shellacked.

I’m excited about this new direction, and eager to hear your feedback!

 

Also included in this update are a handful of my jeweled leather feather pendants. There’s a beautiful mixed media barn owl feather pendant necklace with faceted Botswana agate teardrops and a large copper circle, a barred feather in rich earth tones with dark titanium quartz crystal and semiprecious stones, and six of my classic leather peacock feathers.

Each peacock feather is unique, and they range from about 3″ long on up to 4.5″. Some are low key with simple wire work spirals, while others are more ornate with faceted cobalt beads and Swarovski crystal dangles.  For the neckline, you have your choice of an antique copper chain, a glass bead and Swarovski crystal necklace, or a hand dyed ribbon neckline. As always, a portion of every peacock feather sale will be donated to cancer research, in memory of my friend who inspired this series.

These little feather pendants are simple and affordable, but they’re definitely statement pieces! Every time I wear one, it sparks conversation (and compliments).  They are striking worn alone, and you can also layer them for a more dramatic look.

 

Last but not least, I’ve added a smattering of leather and semiprecious stone earrings. There are a couple of new designs, and I’ve also restocked several of my popular favorites.

There are more semiprecious stone briolettes and quartz crystals, along with some blue jays (in three sizes!), green oak leaves, peacock feathers, red rose vines, and owl feathers.

It’s a small sampling, to be sure. If I’m up to it, I may trickle in a few more pieces before the weekend – but I’m not going to push myself. I hope you’ll enjoy these offerings, and thanks so much for your support this season and always!

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Down the Laser Rabbit Hole (pew pew)

I know, I’ve been super quiet lately. Two months ago I was given the (incredible!) opportunity to test a pre-release unit of the new Glowforge hobby laser. Since then, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of lasering all the things.

Here are a few examples of my early experiments. I’m still learning, and still figuring out how I want to use this amazing tool, but one thing’s for sure… it’s a huge game changer. This is the first time in many years that I have been able to work without pain. I’d become so accustomed to working through the aches and pains that I didn’t even realize how much it was holding me back. I am so excited about the possibilities ahead!

Again, these images reflect early experiments and drafts. They’re not final projects, and they’re probably not significant indicators of how I will ultimately use this tool in my work. For the time being, I’m just learning slowly and translating all of my existing leatherwork patterns to digital files.

1st attempts at engraving glass.files.

It’ll be a while before I’m 100% confident of the direction that I want to go, and begin designing new work with the laser. For today I’m giving myself time to go slowly, take risks, make mistakes, and just enjoy the learning process. I’m having a lot of fun with it, and looking forward to creating some larger, more elaborate works.

laser engraved leather mandalas

Glowforge production units are starting to ship now and based on my experience with the pre-release unit, I can heartily recommend this product. If you’d like to order one, please consider using this referral code for a $100 discount off your purchase. In the spirit of full disclosure – I’m not being paid for this endorsement (I am a very satisfied user) but if you do use the referral code that I just linked, it’ll give me a bit of a discount on my order too. Win-win.

laser engraved bone beads
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A word (or three) about my pricing…

handcrafted leather hair accessories

I was recently asked why the prices of my hair accessories are higher than those of a copycat competitor. It’s difficult to find a polite answer that doesn’t sound defensive or snarky, but I’ll give it my best attempt … First off, I can’t tell you why another artist charges as much – or as little – as they do. What I can tell you is why I charge what I do:

My original designs have evolved over many years of trial and error – so my work is not only beautiful, it’s functional. I actually use these products in my own (thick, waist length) hair, so I have a good sense of sizing, comfort and durability. My designs have been refined by my own experience, and the knowledge that has been shared by my customers over the years. As such, my work is the evolution of many years of experimentation and experience.

My pieces are made using top quality supplies, because I can see the difference and the results are worth it. I strive to create heirloom quality work that will make you feel beautiful and elicit compliments whenever you wear it. So when you compare my pricing to those of other artisans, please be sure that you’re comparing cost and value. My work uses premium tooling leather and high quality dyes, as well as artisan quality acrylic paints and sealer. Color is applied in many layers, and sealed to be water resistant; this process takes more time and materials than a quick dye job, but it also results in richer, more complex color that won’t bleed if it gets wet.

Similarly, I like to collaborate with artisan woodworkers and wireworkers who create high quality, handcrafted sticks. While their work is pricier than some of the simple sticks out there, it’s also sturdier and more attractive. Even my low end hair toys use well made commercially crafted wooden sticks, which work nicely for fine hair, partial updo’s and/or ponytail holders. Please consider this when comparing my hair slides to those that simply use sharpened pieces of dowel or flimsy metal sticks from China, which are not sturdy or good for your hair.

Last but not least: in order to keep producing high quality craftsmanship, I must pay myself a livable wage. This is not a hobby for me, it’s my livelihood. If I want to be able to continue creating this caliber of work, I have to pay myself a fair wage that reflects my time, expenses and skill level.

With that said, I understand that my prices are higher than some of my competitors’. Please trust that you get what you pay for! When you purchase my work, you are empowering me to keep creating and expanding my craft; in return, you’ll receive a well made item that is beautiful, functional, and worth every penny.

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Caring and Sharing

As an independent artist, here are a few things that I really appreciate. While some points are admittedly ranty (my apologies, it needs to be said) this is a sincere attempt to educate. Much of it is basic netiquette, but the last one is an extra bit of kindness that just rocks my world:

1) If you share my work on pinterest, facebook, online forums, etc, please retain my links. To do so, simply share the link rather than downloading the image from my site and uploading it elsewhere. This way, when people discover my work through your posting, it leads them back to my site. I can’t tell you how many customers have found me via social media. Those links really help IF they retain the artist credit and contact info!

2) If you do share my work, please don’t alter my images or remove my watermark, logo or copyright information.

3) If you’d like to use images of my work in your workshop, tutorial, flyer, character description, or anything else … please ask first. And again with the credit. Really, it matters.

4) At this time, I don’t sell kits, patterns, tutorials or DIY components. If I change that practice, I’ll be sure to let everyone know. Until then, please do not disassemble, alter, reverse engineer, spin, fold or mutilate my work.

5) Please don’t reproduce my stuff. If you insist on doing so, please contact me to discuss a design fee. If you’re unwilling to compensate me for creative design or writing services, I suggest that time spent studying or duplicating my efforts would be better spent at your own workbench, developing your own style.

6) If you enjoy my work, please SHARE it and tell them where you found it! This helps to make my work visible to a wider audience, which is a HUGE help. Even if you can’t afford to buy anything, respectful sharing is an awesome way to support artists that you like!

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10 Things not to say to an artist or crafter…

10 things not to say to an artist

10. “I’ll just get my friend to make me one of those.”

9. “You know what you should make . . . ”

8. “Do I get a price break if I buy two?”

7. “I can make that myself.”

6. “Why does it cost so much?”

5. “How do you make this?”

4. “Will you donate your artwork to our event? We can’t pay you, but it will be great exposure.”

3. “My nine-year-old makes this kind of stuff too.”

2. “Kids, this is what happens if you don’t go to college.”

1. “I can buy that at Walmart for $3.99.”

via the California Arts Council

 

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Policies for Custom Work

I’m currently taking a brief hiatus from custom work, but I will begin accepting *limited* commissions again next month. Before I do, I’d like to revamp my policies in order to ensure that all parties have clear/shared expectations for this process. To that end, I would love input from both my customers and my fellow artisans. Here are a few of the topics that I’m pondering:

Customers:
Have you ever commissioned an artist before?
If so, what are your hopes and expectations for this type of transaction?
Are you willing to sign a contract or agreement?
What policies or practices might help you to feel comfortable with the process?
What policies or practices might ensure that you are happy with the end result?

Artisans:

How detailed are your commissions policies?
Do you use a contract, or just a handshake?
Do you require a deposit? If so, how much — and is it refundable?
Do you spell out specifics, such as how many photos and/or revisions are included?
Do you charge for “extras” such as sketches, custom colors, additional photos, multiple revisions, etc?
Do you make a distinction between “customized” (ie – recreating an existing work in custom colors) and “completely custom” (ie – designed from scratch to the customer’s specifications)?

Are there any topics or policies that you feel are critical to a good commission agreement?

Thanks in advance for any input that you can offer!

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Thank you for understanding…

via http://pearleden.deviantart.com/

This little gem has been floating around Facebook recently. I shared it on my fan page, but I’d like to elaborate on the concept a bit…

Sometimes I’m surprised by the random people that write asking for (deep!) discounts, even though we’ve never met. I’m tempted to reply sarcastically, and ask them to give me the equivalent of half a day’s work too — you know, just because.

Similarly, I’m puzzled when folks ask for — or even demand — patterns and detailed construction information. While I don’t mind sharing certain tips with  friends or peers, I’m not in the habit of giving my business away to strangers.

Worse yet are the ones who just take without asking — this year alone, I’ve caught three different “artists” selling direct (and bad!) knockoffs of my original designs. Not only did these people duplicate my original works, but they opted to sell in the same venues that I do and undercut me! I swear, that is the mark of the copycat — they always seem to sell their reproductions for less than the original. I suspect it’s because they know what they’ve done, and feel ashamed — but that’s an entirely different rant, so I’ll save it for another post. Bottom line: when you take something off of a store shelf without paying, it’s called stealing; please don’t kid yourself — helping yourself to my hard work is no different.

My point is that many people do not seem to value creative work. There’s an expectation that it’s easy or effortless, or that it’s some sort of cute little hobby and not a real job. If you believe that crap, please allow me to disabuse you of your misconceptions — I work my ass off! For reals. I have invested decades into learning my craft, honing my skills, and developing original products. I’ve also poured an amazing amount of money into tools and supplies. In addition, I devote countless hours to “invisible” tasks such as SEO, photography, writing copy and so forth. This is my livelihood — what I do to pay my bills.

via the talented Valorie Wilson of http://www.valoriewilson.com/

 As this sketch illustrates, professional artists also generate a host of business expenses in the course of creating and selling their work. My pricing is structured  to cover such expenses and provide a livable wage. So when you ask me for discounts, tips and freebies, you aren’t asking for an intangible bit off fluff that I dreamed up in my “spare time”; you are asking me to work for free. I might like you better if you at least offered me a trade — how about a free meal at your restaurant, a one hour massage, free teeth cleaning, or whatever it is that you do to support yourself?

I try to be generous with my work by offering sales throughout the year. I also donate a lot of my creations to charity, trade with other artisans, give to friends and family (and even the occasional stranger who touches my heart); but I don’t simply give my work away to everyone off the street. Can you think of any sustainable business that does? I apologize if this post sounds ranty or bitter — but I see so many of these rude “requests” and outright thefts that it’s hard not to get that way. I’ll back away from the soapbox and leave you with this request: please approach me (and my work) with the same basic courtesy that you would show any other professional.