Tuesday, December 30, 2008
With that out of the way, I feel so justified in confessing that I put the brakes on business during my peak sales period. Actually, Mama Mayborne Designs intentionally experienced it's slowest holiday season in the five years I've been doing this. I only participated in one small show and only accepted one custom order.
That order was for a friend of mine, Holly, who asked me if I could make her a cross pendant with her favorite verse. Of course I told her "YES" and made her a quick sketch. Next thing I knew she wanted six!!
Now I had to figure out how I was going to pull it off. Just so you know, I always get nervous in between the "sketch" and "do something" steps. Think it took me two weeks just to get my mind around it all. But I kicked out a better sketch, a template and something to practice on (in this case, hand-scribing the verse was freaking me out).
After I had one done, I showed it to Holly to see if it was what she wanted. ***Fellow artists take note: Just because there is agreement with the initial sketch doesn't mean that is what the client wants. What they really want lies somewhere between the sketch and SOMEthing else. You'll never guess it on your own so go back for feedback, preferably before you use up all of your time and raw materials.
In this case Holly didn't like the "plus sign" looking cross when it jumped off the page and into real life. She preferred to have the traditional-shaped cross. No problem. New sketch, new template and everyone is happy!
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
As the days have gone by without putting in any action on Blogger (or any of my websites for that matter), the non-blogging guilt has been building up. Add to that a complete lack of any interesting ideas to write about... until today!
At about 6:30 am this morning, a good friend of mine (and the talent behind KPCreations) called. She started the conversation with the appropriate apologies (not knowing that my day actually starts at 6 am). Then she made the long awaited announcement... that one of the rings in my online shop, The Wave, has made it to the front page on Etsy!
By 6:45 am, I was at the computer checking things out for myself and viola! There it was! My ring was selected for a treasury created by "rockstarwife" and showcased with other very lovely items.
What a great way to start the day!! Thanks!
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Well, after four long, painful months of waiting, I finally received my first sale on Etsy! I had just about given up on ever selling anything online, when (much to my surprise) the long awaited message hit my inbox saying that someone placed an order for the "Pebbled Disk" earrings ($20) shown on the left.
I don't remember if I did the official "Happy Dance" but a lot of loud cries of joy did burst forth from my mouth. I felt so excited as I carefully wrapped, packed and even stood in line at the post office to send it off. Even better was reading the feedback that my new customer left for my shop and service.
Now that I know that selling on Etsy is possible, I plan to revamp my shop and add new products. Check it out over the next few weeks to see the exciting changes that are in store. If you like what you see, please let me know with a message or an order!!
Friday, March 28, 2008
This happens to be the first year that I've applied to a show that requires a booth shot because a) I don't really have a good one yet and b) it was another requirement that made me nervous and self-eliminate before even applying. But this year, I was determined to face new things head-on and stop being a whimp!
I edited a photo that I took of my booth a few years ago and came up with what you see in this post. A few weeks ago I attended a jury showing and saw hundreds of booth examples. My photo would not be considered the best (by a long shot). It would also not be the worst either.
I met with, Larry Sanders, expert craft photographer and one of the show's judges and asked him what is the purpose of the booth photo and what makes one better than another. He said that the purpose of a booth photo is for the jurors to see:
- The scale of the work that is being shown. It is often difficult to know the size of a piece and it could be a determining factor for an artist. This is not the case for jewelry however as the size of the jewelry most often can't be determined.
- It shows the jurors that the person applying has more than the 3-6 pieces that are usually required for jury slides. Some artists will make a few nice pieces to get into a show without adequate inventory to sell. This is bad for a show.
- It shows the professionalism of the display. In other words, orange crates are not very appreciated these days at shows. Nice display cases, nice shelving, nice walls are always a bonus. Curtains that cover the harsh white walls of a tent are a big help.
- It can be a tie-breaker between two or more equally talented artists. Favor would be given to the one with the better looking display.
- Some shows will actually give the booth a score that is added to the score for ranking artists.
A Few More Tips from Mama...
- When taking your own photos, keep people and anything that identifies who you are out of the image. If I knew more about photo editing, I'd have taken the man in the yellow shirt out of my image. Dropping the sides of my tent would have also helped.
- I recommend using iprintfromhome.com for turning your digital images into slides. They are very cheap, easy and fast!
- Use a professional if possible. Like I said about jury slides, why take chances when the only representation you have of yourself are a few images. I'll be giving Larry a call when I'm ready for my next one.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I guess my Tanzy ring was included to remind mamas to not forget to treat themselves to something nice too!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
After the kids found all the eggs and I was thoroughly gussied up for church, I snuck a few minutes to check the computer for messages. I was very surprised to find out that I am today's featured artist on Haute Innovations, a fresh & innovative independent artisan showcase.
For those of you who are not aware of Haute Innovations, rush on over to check it out. You'll find something for every style and plenty of inspiring info on indie artists. I am just amazed at the site's professionalism and ability to discover new talents.
And of course, I am very flattered and honored to have been chosen!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Well anyway, I decided to break the trend (at least for the moment) by making a brooch. I started this project last Wednesday during my class at Terri McCarthy Studios. There, I fabricated the base by texturizing sterling silver, copper and brass. Then, I soldered the pieces together and added a 5mm bezel cup to the bottom.
I finished the piece this morning at home by soldering the pin findings onto the back. I was a little nervous because I've only made one pin before and that was a few years ago. I spent a lot of time lining up the catches and pallions of solder. Once everything was just right, I got out my handy dandy torch and voila! Perfect... if I must say so myself! After I finished patting myself on the back, I added a light patina, set a black onyx stone and polished the piece.
Thought for the day: If you think something is going to be too hard, try it anyway. You might be pleasantly surprised or find a new challenge. Either way, practice makes perfect!!
Monday, March 17, 2008
What did I do with this surprising gift of six hours to myself? Well after I finished my naps, I got right down to the studio and made more rings!
I seem to be on a ring kick lately for some reason. In my last post, I wrote about making several sterling silver bands out of embellished wire. I decided to stay with the simple look and made these delicate little rings. I used 14 gauge sterling silver wire and soldered it into round bands. Then I soldered on 5mm fine silver bezel cups. Next I set denim-blue lapis lazuli and black onyx cabochons. Finally, I burnished them with a brass brush and soapy water until they shined.
I was able to make one ring on Saturday and six on Sunday. Isn't that learning curve amazing!
My fingers are still sore from all of the stone setting and burnishing, but now I have a nice little ring to wear... and a few more to sell at my next show. And since I was on a roll and the boys were still out, I made a couple pair of matching earrings by soldering sterling silver earring posts onto the backs of additional bezel cups.
Not bad for a little surprise work time!
Friday, March 14, 2008
I tell you all of this not just to gain sympathy, but to let you know why I haven't written in a little while. And now that I'm back, I do not know where to begin. I did manage to make it to my metalsmithing workshop the last two Wednesdays. I've been working on making several sterling silver ring bands to sell at upcoming shows. I like them... they're simple but with a flair, just like me! So far, I've made 15 of them in various sizes to sell for about $15 as a show special. I hope to be able to make another dozen before early April.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Now, who wants to talk about jury slides??? I must admit that when I first started out, this was a fearful topic! Not only do I hate taking pictures of my work, but knowing that those images would affect my chances of getting into decent shows really had me shakin' in my boots. Actually, for my first round of shows, I intentionally refrained from applying to any that required slides. Then I began to realize that if I was going to be a serious artist doing serious shows, I had to get over it... and fast!
I began to research the topic a little and found out that the images submitted for jury are nothing like the ones you see of pretty objects in catalogs or online shops. In those photographs, items are displayed with colorful backgrounds, props, and "in action" showing suggested use. In photographs used for juried competition, objects are to be the one and only focus in the image. Backgrounds are minimal and drab; lighting, and therefore positioning, is key; and clear, sharp images that make sense are necessary. In my images shown here, it is obvious which of my pieces are pendants because a little of the chain has been kept in the photo.
In a future post, I will be walking you through an actual jury procedure, but for now it is important to know that typically a jury, or panel of judges, will see your images blown up as big as 3-feet wide. Keep that in mind! The smallest flaw on a piece might become very obvious when viewed at that size.
If you've read this far in what has turned out to be a very long post, here is just a little more to keep you busy...
Mama's tips on submitting great jury slides...
- Ask another artist to select items from your body of work to be photographed. When we create our own work, we tend to be biased and think that every piece is the best. Get a fresh pair of eyes to help you select work from a judge's perspective.
- Be sure to label your slides according to the shows specifications, making sure to clearly identify your name and the images proper orientation. It would really stink if you had a great slide that was shown upside down!
- Use a professional photographer, and not your cousin who takes great wedding photos. I am convinced that some things are best done by others. So if you think that I created my own jury images, you are CRAZY. They were taken by the extremely talented Larry Sanders, who is based in Milwaukee, WI.
- Update your images every few years or when your body of work changes significantly. Some shows are now indicating that they will check your booth to make sure that you didn't turn in images of your only five things that actually turned out.
P.S. Shown are all of my jury images. Soon I will post about booth shots, the jury process and more!
Monday, March 3, 2008
Anyway, I'll give an update as quickly as I can while the little one takes a nap. Since my last post, I've been accepted into a wearable art show to be held on May 3rd in Shorewood, WI. There has still been no word on the other four shows that I applied to, but it's still pretty early. I'll let you know how it goes as I get the results, or you can check the "events" page on my website for more details.
I also had another metal smithing class last week at the Terri McCarthy Studios. During my second class, I met more people and got real friendly with the jump ring tool. Never again will I have to pay the high price for retail jump rings because I have figured out how to make my own. I made up several rings using 16 guage sterling silver wire and a #5 mandrel.
This gave me the opportunity to try a pattern in a book for a byzantine link chain. Here is a picture of my progress. Not too bad for the first time. In class, I also made a sterling silver disk pendant with a wide tube bail. It will look perfect on the chain when it is finished... if I must say so myself!
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
But more importantly, (jewelry freak that I am) I noticed a bracelet sported by a few moms like a badge of honor. They called it a mother's bracelet and it had their kids' names on it. I fell in love with the concept of jewelry that could be worn as a reminder of what is really important... even on days when I showed up at MOPS without makeup and a bag of chips to be eaten directly from the bag!
You are invited to celebrate the blessing of being a mother everyday in a beautiful "Mama Bracelet". It is made to order with 4.5mm or 5.5mm sterling silver letter beads, toggle clasp and Swarovski crystals. A crystal dangle with your kids' birthstones is included. For more info, contact me or check out the "Mama Collection" on my website, www.maybornedesigns.com.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
My favorite tool of the day was the rolling mill. Just imagine a machine that's like a pair of rolling pins on steroids. I don't know the engineering mechanisms involved, but when an annealed piece of metal is rolled through with a textured object, the mill presses the pattern onto the metal. I added texture to sterling silver and turned it into earrings with post backs. I rolled another piece to make a ring with a leather textured shank.
But the very best features of the studio are the lights, vents, outlets and fellow artists! I have a very well-equipped studio at home but it's a bit lacking in the fundamentals. Someday I fear that I am going to trip in the dark on the four extention cords that share the same outlet. Either that or I will pass out from the flux fumes and no one will know that I'm missing. Getting out for 3 hours a week, with other adults and windows, is definitely a good thing.
This is a picture of my instructor, Terri McCarthy. She has been making jewelry since 1988 and opened her own studio four years ago when the local community college stopped offering the metalsmithing class that she taught. She knows everything and I hope a little of her expertise rubs off on me!
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
As I was preparing my final round of paperwork today, I kept being reminded of my former life as a human resource consultant. I spent a lot of time in those days recruiting, selecting and placing hundreds of folks in positions with companies. More importantly, for every person placed were dozens that were not. Why?? Well there's all sorts of reasons and I really don't want to rehash too much of the past... but one reason is not taking the application seriously.
Now I admit that I was a tough critic, especially when getting a ton of applications for one position that needed to be filled asap. I've permanently "filed" plenty of incomplete, sloppy and grammatically-challenged first impressions. Now I do NOT want that to happen to me, especially when a few shows make up most of my revenue for the year. So when I complete an art show application, I put myself in the position of the selection committee faced with hundreds of applications for one 10'x10' piece of pavement.
So my advice... take time and care when preparing your applications. Supply all information requested, print clearly, organize your paperwork and remember that you only have one shot at making the first impression! And if that doesn't motivate you, think about the non-refundable application fee... that always makes me want to give them my best!!
A few more tips:
- make a file for each show to house info supplied and received.
- have a ready-made, short blurb about yourself and your work.
- send materials directly from the post office to avoid exposure to weather.
- pay careful attention to requirements and deadlines.
Good luck everyone and come back to hear my thoughts on jury images!
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I am today's featured artist in another blog! Click here to check out the article by The Banner Queen and leave a comment or two.
If you are curious about the other blogs that have featured me recently, click here to see what Moon Dog Treasures said about me and here to see what Keys and Memories had to say!
Thank you all very much!!
Friday, February 15, 2008
Application time is not one of my favorite times of the year and I put it off like paying taxes. But it is extremely necessary in developing an art business. It gives me great anxiety when I think about being judged on a few slides and a short blurb about my work. Not only that, but every year I apply to higher level shows that have higher hurdles and I sit on more pins and needles waiting for the verdicts.
Last week, I identified five shows that would be the best fit for me at this time. I found some of them by visiting the Wisconsin Art & Craft Fair Directory produced by the Wisconsin Arts Board. I look for shows that seem to be the most selective and draw big crowds of my target market. I have the best luck with shows that have been recommended to me by other artists. As a relatively new kid on the block I love meeting seasoned artists at shows and learning from their successes (and mistakes).
I have already been accepted to a wearable art show in April and five more (if accepted) would give me one show per month until September. That is the most I can do this show season with two little kids, limited production time and a very limited application fee budget. I also plan to do two shows during the next holiday show season, but fortunately those applications won't be due until the summer and I can put them off for now!
Monday, February 11, 2008
After spending most of the day freezing... I decided to play with a little fire. So I went to my studio, dug up a few projects that were ready for some heat and fired up my torch.
First, I annealed a strip of sterling silver that I cut to become a cuff bracelet. Annealing is the process of softening metal by exposing it to a high heat source, thereby making it much easier to bend around a bracelet mandrel.
So that's how I stayed a little warmer on a very cold day. Tomorrow if it's still freezing, I'm going to find something to do with my kiln. Firing metal at 1300*F just might do the trick!
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
There are 12 Swarovski crystals in the bracelet and each color represents a key word or phrase. It all helps me remember brilliant pieces of scripture and God's provisions. "The Good Shepherd" is also made with an eclectic assortment of sterling silver beads, bead caps and spacers. It is finished with a sterling silver toggle clasp and two sterling silver charms. I like to think that the cross in the center of the Star of David charm shows how the passage elloquently points to Christ.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Romantic designs that are subtly sexy are very enticing. I strive to create pieces that captivate and compel approving glances from adoring eyes. My jewelry designs also emphasize durability and versatility to make everyday wear possible.
I enjoy playing the matchmaker who joins the wearer and their object of desire into a long-term, enduring relationship. That's what makes me so passionate about creating the opportunity for women to display their love affair with jewelry.
Brook "Mama" Mayborne
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Don't the schools know that Wednesday is MY workday. I recall telling them when I recently registered my 3-year old for an extra day of "play school" that he goes to school and I get to work, hassle-free. Man, five hours of uninterrupted work/quiet time shot... all because schools can't seem to remember that this is WISCONSIN and we need to teach these kids some cold-toughness here. If nothing else, they've got to be able to tell their kids those "we walked to school, in the snow, uphill, 10 miles, 10 below, with no shoes..." stories. Now all they'll be able to say is "my eyes hurt from LOOKING at all that snow"!!!
So needless to say that I'm not going to get much work done today! But I have broken up 20 fights, fetched a dozen snacks, showed countless videos and it's only 1pm!
So glad that I named my business "MAMA Mayborne Designs" to remind me what my first job is, especially on days like this!
Oh and P.S.: Since I'm one of the only stay-at-home moms in my neighborhood, I've also received the privilege of babysitting another kid too!!
- Give your jewelry posh, yet private accommodations. To a piece of jewelry, this means storing it alone in an airtight container. This prevents scratching on other jewelry and exposure to oxidizing elements.
- Go on plenty of dates. The more you wear your piece, the more it gets coated with your natural body oils. These oils create a clear protective patina which prevents tarnishing.
- Give it a lot of R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Unlike a silent partner, your jewelry will let you know if you aren't treating it right. Matchmaker suggests that you keep the piece from chemical spills, sharp objects, sudden impact and toddlers!
And just remember to have fun looking beautiful in Mama Mayborne Designs!
Let me know if you have any other suggestions or questions about jewelry care.
And FYI... all Mama Mayborne Designs ordered online are shipped to you in my signature pink gift box with ribbon. It has an anti-tarnish cotton lining and makes the perfect abode for your silver pieces. I also tuck in a zip top baggie with an anti-tarnish strip for times when your jewelry is on the go!
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Don't take that the wrong way, I am a very humble person... but there comes a time when I have to lay my humility to the side and shout "I am GREAT" outloud. So what if no one hears it but me. So what if no one agrees (not even me). So what!! It's got to be said and believed and perceived.
My kids teach me that not even your greatest accomplishments (giving birth, living on a budget or enduring Barney) will be appreciated . Fellow artists have told me that no one will understand my efforts in creating. Even my cat, who I rescued from the snowy streets, gives me an "I-could-care-less" look quite often.
But I'm here to say when life gets hard, my ego gets bruised and I feel my artistic efforts are going no where, I'll just remember...
- that the home atmosphere which I've helped create leads my youngest son to remember to give thanks before a meal... even at school, AND
- that people (and not just my mom) are taking notice of my work and spreading the word. I've even been featured in a blog of someone I don't even know. Click here to check it out!
I really AM all that (and a big bag of chips)!!!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Not quite sure why, but it is. I feel like I've made a lot of progress with my work and business lately. I've designed my spring collection and have the majority of the designs fabricated. I've recently given my brand a face lift. I've set up this blog, an online photo catalogue and an online store. Heck, I've even made a few sales this month which is very unusual for January.
I get very excited after putting several hours into designing, fabricating and promoting my work (especially when it turns out the way I wanted). But then there is the inevitable lull when waiting for an opportunity to show it off or when the non-creative side of business comes a-calling.
Right now that side of business is calling loudly and I feel like I must force myself to pay last quarter's sales taxes (bummer!), clean my studio (pointless!), file papers (yuck!), order supplies (boring!), etc.
Does anyone else feel this way about the mundane side of creativity?? I know I'm not alone here... but here's what I'm going to do about it:
- turn my music up loud and throw my own little "get-this-junk-done" party.
- eat chocolate until it hurts!
- bribe myself to get motivated with a promise of retail therapy.
- think about not having to do it again for a while (or at least a day).
- thank God that I've had sales that gave me taxes to pay, a studio of my own to clean, important papers to file, and enough money to order supplies that I need!
Wow, feeling better already!!!
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Click here to see a few of my favorite photos from the trip.
It was truly a wonderful trip... very inspiring both as a Christian and as a jewelry designer. Standing in the same places that saw major biblical and historical events, made me feel awestruck.
It only took a few moments for me to realize that taking pictures of Greece wasn't going to be enough. I wanted to take Greece home... and that's what I did! I decided to collect leaves from plants that adorned the popular attractions and from ordinary places. Now in my studio I have dried leaves labeled, "poplar leaves from Olympia", "plant outside Paul's prison in Philipi", "laurel leaf growing next to the Parthenon in Athens" and "ivy leaf from the stream where Paul baptized Lydia".
I know that my travel mates thought that I was nuts at times, but I kept telling them that I had a plan for those leaves. And now everyone can see a little bit of my imagination come to life in the photo above. Here I have cast an olive leaf (left) from the grounds of Philip's tomb and a laurel leaf (right) from Apollo's temple in Delphi. I'm not going to bore you with the process, but I painted each leaf with several layers of a paste form of pure silver. After completely drying, I fired them in a kiln, applied a patina, polished and voila... perfect leaf impressions made of pure silver (click on the photo above to view larger). The process took about a week working at mom speed and I look forward to making more with the leaves that did not get ruined by the Greek heat or my cat.