Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Stuff Karma or the Artistic Dissonance that fuels creativity

I had a sudden urge to clean out my storage unit. I was mainly motivated by saving the $55 a month, which is not that much, but these days every bit helps. I sold some things, threw out others and squeezed the rest into my garage. Task DONE, yeah! A little extra $$, yippee! BUT it got me thinking about Stuff Karma. For the artist, it's the ongoing problem of what to do with the work you make and the stuff you collect.
one of Christine's Junk Piles
I struggle with this all the time and it gets harder as I get older. It's not just a problem for artists but for everyone in Western culture:  stuff accumulates, storage costs go up, attachment can become greater the longer you keep something, letting go is hard. BUT, if you don't deal with your stuff now, while your alive, the task will go to someone who doesn't know what you want (heck, even you probably don't know what you want to do with all that stuff, hence the storage shed).

Louise Bourgeois dealt with her problem in a unique way decades ago. When she died in 2010 she was very well known and her work sought after, but when she was younger that was not the case. She faced the problem of how to store work that no one wants buy. So she bought an acre of land outside of NYC and took her large stone and bronze sculptures and dumped them there. When she became famous she returned and "dug them up" to take to her galleries for shows.

Louise Bourgeois
I have to admit that is a clever solution and is appropriate for pieces that can be left outside for decades. That isn't the case with paintings, fiber, wood, or anything that cannot endure the elements. Most of work made from more perishable materials have to be stored inside, and sometimes in heated climate controlled buildings. Artists have the added task of figuring out if they can afford to store their work and where.

This of course brings up the issues of how much you value your work, how much you are willing to invest in it, how much money you have, or don't have and how you want to spend that money. If options and money are scarce, artists must face the prospect of destroying the work, giving it away or recycling the materials into new work. Options which are difficult and often painful.

Judy Chicago's Dinner Party went into storage for many hears after it's controversial museum premier in 1979. The controversy resulted in the subsequent show venues canceling. She put her massive installation in storage and paid a high cost (due to having fiber table runners and other delicate materials it had to be in a climate controlled environment). Once it was acquired by the Brooklyn Museum it was clear she made the right decision to preserve it and pay the price for many years but she had to act (and spend) on faith. She had to sacrifice. Not every artist has the means nor the commitment to dish out thousands of dollars a month on rent for their art.

Judy Chicago's Dinner Party
So now that my task is done, it feels good, but quickly I realize it's not over. I can now move on to the stuffed closet, the extra bedroom and the pile of rusty junk in my backyard. Ok, now I need a drink! Anyone need a Princess Chair - $50 firm. I'm attached and you can imagine why, she's adorable.

For sale precious Princess Chair. Found at a garage sale in Florida, brought back in my car to Colorado 10 years ago. Needs a good home and new upholstery. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Downsizing by SMASHING

Today I began studio downsizing. It's so overwhelming that my brain locks up when I walk in the door. But I must start somewhere, so I pick GLASS. Maybe because I know I'll be able to take out some of my frustration smashing it. 

I've been collecting vintage glass for a few years now. I break it up and tumble it, then drill holes and use it for charms and pendants.  I especially like strong colors such as cobalt blue and ruby red. These are hard to find so I'm not taking them to the recycle bin, no, no, no. BUT...... Bottles are bulky, it's all that empty space inside.  So, given that I need to downsize,  the easy solution is to


And that I will gladly do. Here's the lineup
I did NOT drink all this Sky Vodka, they were my neighbors, or maybe my sisters, definitely NOT mine. 

Saturday, October 24, 2015

How will Creatives Survive the New Economy?

I'm thoroughly discouraged. I have to sell my studio of 10 years because it's just too expensive and making a living selling my jewelry has become too difficult and sales have fallen off significantly over the past year. I blamed myself for a time but then, I happen upon things like this, and it reminds me it's not my fault.
BurOakStudio on Etsy - Copies my Smashed Knitting Needle Bracelets 
These bracelets sell for $10 from a casual Etsy seller, mine are $28. I can't afford to make them for $10 retail.  I know mine are better but most customers do not care, or they are not educated enough to see the difference. Price is the deciding factor, especially in this economy.

When I first put these on the market, I sold enough each month to pay the mortgage on my studio. Now I'm lucky if I sell one every other month.

Appropriation with out Consideration

This kind of appropriation happens all the time, especially from the Internet. Sites like Pinterest make it so easy to re-pin and share that the original source gets lost within a few pins, much like the original message got lost in a game of "telephone." 

What is more disheartening is the presentation by these "artists" that they just "came up with the idea". When I know they saw my work online and conveniently forgot. 

Before I started there were no "smashed knitting needle bracelets". Knitting needle jewelry existed, mostly from smaller needles like these from Sassafras Creations.

These pieces are much more professional than BurOakStudios work, shown below.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Etsy Exodus and why it's not really happening

Formula for a successful listing: cute dog + funny hat + bright colors = $$$
Artists and crafters jumped like flies onto ETSY in the mid 2000s with its handmade DIY theme. It was pretty clunky at first offering few options for layout, listing quantities, variations etc. But it added those slowly and developed a reputation as THE place for Indie crafters. And it was all due to early adopter artists and craftspeople looking for a way to sell their wares online easily and with other like-minded indies.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

DeCon Daze

Our first DeCon day was Delightful. Take 5 mature women (aka grannies), give em some guy tools and see how much damage they can do in a few hours.

We started with a bunch of old machines that have been in retirement for decades, just like us. Some like the Underwood manual typewriter are older than dirt (and was caked with layers of dirt, oil and hay).

Others like the Commodore 64 keyboard (named after the 60's group) were just vintage (aka dated) or to put it simply  - old but not yet really cool

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Q: Why I SMASH!!!!

A: Finding my bracelets on another's Pinterest Board titled "Cool Stuff I Could Make.

Thank you Mary Gibson from  Wenatchee Washington for repinning my bracelet. I appreciate the promo it makes my day when I inspire someone to fantasize about just whipping up a bracelet like this, easy as making a pie. Those needles bend like puddy and I stamped every one of those little circles with a stamp.

I've spent years of R&D, gone thru countless failed attempts at both smashing knitting needles and buttons, purchased a $1,000 piece of equipment and made thousands of bracelets. But hey, give it a try, and make Cool Stuff. Come early for bargain prices. Be a living wonder.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Diary of a Smash..... a journey to flatland

I started out with this pile of metal junk, all culled from my stash. I chose things that I thought I could make keychains, pendants or shawl pins out of.  I collected them and made a pile. There are water faucet knobs, bobbins, a shoehorn, buckles, spoon, cookie cutters, a little tray, some big grommets, some vintage jewelry pieces, metal washers, tools, nails…..

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Whistle Stops Here

Thanks to all my Facebook fans that guessed what this Rustic Boho Gypsy Tin Cuff Bracelet was made from..... Some guesses were: super hero lunch box, tamborine, flute, kazoo..... All were great guesses and gave me some new ideas of things to try smashing. Kathryn guessed right after many tries by others and a few hints. Here's the story.....

It all started with a Slide Whistle (aka as a swannee whistle, piston flute or jazz flute). It has a little rod that you move up and down in the chamber to make a wheeeeeeeeee sound as you blow.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Studio Tour....Welcome to My Mess

I keep saying I gotta clean this up before I take pictures but let's face it ,that just ain't gonna happen anytime soon. So welcome to my mess..... A little bit o insight into the creative process (or lack of)

(click an image to enter slide show mode...more fun)
Knitting Needles multiplying like Tribbles

Finds, too busy to put away so they get piled on the floor (no I am NOT a hoarder) these are "Art Supplies"

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hobo Barbie's Clothes Disappear - Cuts off Her Hair in Remorse

I was worried when I saw little tuffs of hair laying on the rock just outside Barbie's Hobo Den.
Inside, on a rock, I found all her hair CUT OFF, apparently using an old rusty, dull pocket knife.
In a fit of despair, she must have felt like she had lost everything, and maybe she thought "why not take the hair too."