Monday, November 16, 2009

St. John Sea Glass

I recently started making and selling sea glass jewelry, and people seem to really like it. I just returned from a trip to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands to scuba dive, photograph and hunt sea glass. I had a very successful hunting trip, and came back with a bag full of good quality seaglass. Here's a photo of my "loot":




Unfortunately, the trip didn't yield any rare colors like cobalt blue or red, only common green, brown and white, but it was mostly good quality.

Upcoming Art Shows

I am going to be really busy the next few weeks. This Saturday, I will be at the Cedar Park High School Holiday Festival. The Saturday after Thanksgiving I will be at the Vespaio Market on South Congress. During the first two weeks in December, I have two home shows and I will be selling my wildflower paintings at the Wild Ideas Holiday event at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center December 5 and 6.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Austin Handmade Market, Saturday, Noon-6

This Saturday I will be selling my ocean inspired jewelry at Austin Handmade Market, 2009 South First Street, noon to 6pm. Come out and see my latest designs and a variety of handmade items from Team Etsy Austin members.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Milking The Cash Cow - An Update

This week, I have been communicating with half a dozen artists/crafters who have been doing a certain local arts and crafts show for several years. Most of them are getting rejection emails saying they wanted to try new vendors this year. It appears that this is yet another show that has adopted the Zapp business model, a result of the show becoming so popular that they are getting large numbers of applications.

How it works, is they rarely ever let the same artist in two years in a row. They charge a high non-refundable jury fee ($25-$45), and rotate the artists. So artists keep thinking they have a chance of getting in the next year and keep on applying and feeding the machine. Art City Austin (Austin Fine Arts Festival) uses Zapp. They get 800-1000 applications at $45 each for the non-refundable jury fee. They let in 200 artists, so they pocket $36,000 from artists who don't get in!

It's a shrewd way of doing business, and more and more shows are getting wise and jumping on board the model. In my opinion it exploits artists (it's our own fault for continuing to feed the machine). I will not apply to any Zapp shows, and I will only apply once to non-Zapp shows who use this model, and if I don't get in, I don't give them any more money. Artist friends, please think about this before you say "I didn't get in, oh well, maybe next year".

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Four Days of Art Shows Coming Up

I'm getting ready for four days of Central Texas art shows - First Thursday on South Congress at Hill Country Weavers, then Buda Fine Arts Festival Friday - Sunday.

UPDATE: I won't be at First Thursday tonight, Hill Country Weavers didn't renew their permit in time :(

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Old Pecan Street Festival, Austin, Texas

I'm ready! For this weekend's Old Pecan Street Festival, that is. I will be in booth 92, between Trinity and Neches across from the Library Bar (they will be televising the game on their big screen tv's). Stop by and see my new jewelry and giclee prints on canvas!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Genuine, Handmade Sea Glass Jewelry

I just uploaded 15 new sea glass pieces to my Etsy store:
http://coralreefdreams.etsy.com.

What is GENUINE sea glass? Sea glass (also called beach glass or mermaid's tears) is tumbled by sea sand and waves until smooth and frosted. It is NOT recycled glass that has been frosted in a rock tumbler. It is NOT frosted glass purchased at a craft store. Each and every piece of my sea glass jewelry is created from genuine sea glass which I find on Caribbean beaches during my scuba diving trips.

So you ask why my sea glass jewelry costs as much as my other jewelry if the glass was free? Well, it's not exactly free. Sea glass is not common, and I spend many hours searching for it. Then, after returning home, the glass is sorted and only the most perfect pieces are chosen for jewelry. Earrings are especially time consuming because I spend a lot of time matching up the pieces to make pairs. Drilling holes in sea glass is a skill that I have mastered only after considerable practice. It is done using a high speed drill mounted in a drill press with a diamond drill bit. The glass must be drilled in a pan of water to keep the bit from getting too hot and breaking. And, great care must be used during the drilling process because the glass breaks easily.

It is important to note that genuine sea glass is mostly irregular in shape and will almost always have some imperfections. It's made by mother nature and it's supposed to be that way, that's how you tell it's the real thing!



 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Austin Handmade Market - Cancelled due to rain

This Saturday, September 12, I will be selling my handmade jewelry at Austin Handmade Market, 2009 South First Street, noon to 6pm. Come out and see my latest designs and a variety of handmade items from Team Etsy Austin members.

http://austinhandmade.com/contact_us.php

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Selling at Art Shows - Non-refundable Application Fees - Milking the Cash Cow

Today I received an email plea from a local holiday art show (won't name names) extending the application date and encoraging people to apply. This show charges a $30 non-refundable application fee, so if you don't get accepted, they keep your money.

The question is why are they sending out a call for artists at the last minute? Are they not getting enough applications? Also, I heard that it was really slow last year compared to years past. Perhaps it's the economy, and people cannot risk paying them $30 and getting turned down, or perhaps people are rebelling against these excessive non-refundable fees. Or, perhaps they are milking the cash cow at the last minute, getting people to send in their applications so they can get their $30 with no intention of letting them into the show?

I have an issue in general with shows that charge nonrefundable application fees, but unfortunately, many shows are going that way. I can certainly understand charging a reasonable fee to review your work but $30? I think that's excessive. I applied to this particular show last year in the photography category (hand-colored Polaroid Transfers) and got turned down, so I will probably not apply again, certainly not in that medium. If you think you have a good shot at getting into this type of show and have $30 to risk, I suggest giving it at shot, but if you get turned down, don't apply to the show again, you're just throwing your money away.

Also, I have only ever been rejected by two other local juried fine art shows, both at the very most high end of the spectrum where the competition is the heaviest. Application fees are $35 - $45 for these shows. They get hundreds of applications and only let in a few, exploiting artists to raise money to fund their art museum and art school, which I think is despicable. I never applied to them again either, but my point is I don't typically get turned down for juried shows, and the show I am referring to here is certainly not high end. I entered it because I thought surely I would be accepted since I generally am.

I would rather pay a higher space rental than risk paying money for nothing, so I would like to see these shows change their application process and stop charging excessive non-refundable fees, especially in this economy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gemstone Lore: Apatite

I use apatite a lot in my jewelry designs. It is a beautiful crystal ranging in color from aqua to neon blue, and can be clear or opaque. Apatite is said to relieve arthritis and joint problems and reduce high blood pressure. It is supposed to stimulate creativity and mental activity, bringing unconditional love while raising self-esteem. Apatite increases motivation and builds up energy reserve. It also induces openness and social ease, encouraging extroversion and dissolving aloofness and alienation. Click on the title to see one my designs that incorporates apatite.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Creating Giclee Fine Art Prints on Canvas

I create my canvas giclee prints using my Epson Stylus Pro 7600 printer and Epson PremierArt glossy canvas. The printer accepts 24" media, both paper and canvas. This allows me to print my 22"x30" watercolor paintings full size. I also use it to make print on canvas of my underwater photographs. The prints are absolutely beautiful, with vibrant, saturated colors.

I have found that even though the canvas is supposed to be waterproof, the prints are very easy to damage unless they are well coated with a clear brush-on sealer. I seal my prints with three coats. For the first coat, I use Liquitex Gloss Varnish and for the second coat, PremierArt Eco-Print Shield which contains a uv blocker. Both coatings are non-yellowing acrylic polymer. Another acrylic coating that can be used in Golden's gloss varnish with UV block. An added benefit of the sealers are they actually make the colors more vibrant. The manufacturer recomends letting the print "cure" for 24-48 hours before coating. I have found that this is not long enough, and have run into the problem of the coating popping off at the corners. I let my prints dry for at least a week before coating, which seems to eliminate the problem. A word of warning, use a very soft brush to apply the coating with, or it may damage the print. I recommend inexpensive watercolor wash brushes, or sponge paint rollers.

I find that the coated prints don't like hot, humid conditions and will become sticky. I remedy this by spraying them with a light, even final coat of Krylon UV-Resistant Crystal Clear Gloss, which takes away the stickiness. I personally like the glossy look, but I have observed that artists who coat their canvas with the matte varnish do not have the problem with stickiness.

If you are going to stretch the print gallery wrap style, it is best to do it before coating. Sometimes the corners will crack during stretching. You can touch them us easily with a little acrylic paint. It is best not to use canvas pliers, as pulling too hard on the canvas will result in cracking. You can tighten the canvas after stretching by inserting wood or plastic tighteners into the corners and tapping them with a hammer.

Instead of stretching, you can mount the print onto a backing board such as acid-free mat board, acid-free foam core or masonite (I recommend using masonite for anything over 11"x14", or the backing board may warp). Heat will damage the prints, so heat-type dry mounting is not recommended. I use a product made by 3m called Positionable Mounting Adhesive. It is easy to work with and acid free.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

New Jewelry Designs

I spent the entire day Saturday updating my Etsy shop with my new creations - http://coralreefdreams.etsy.com

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Green Artist's Materials

I know there are a lot of ways artists can contribute to the environment by use of "green" materials. Most artists by nature are into recycling and conserving, and many artists contribute percentages of their sales to worthy causes. I support coral reef conservation organizations in this manner. Another way to contribute is by refusing to use materials derived from threatened species.

One of the organizations I donate to, The Coral Reef Alliance recently published a newsletter article about the huge market for red coral jewelry worldwide depleting the species. There has been a movement to put red coral on the threatened species list, but the proposal on the table has been blocked by nations who are benefiting financially from the sales of red coral (and guess what, the US is the biggest buyer of red coral!). If jewelers would simply refuse to use this material, the threat would go away.

For more information, visit http://www.coral.org

I am sure there are many other ways artist's can help the environment. Fee free to contribute your ideas in this thread.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Gemstone Lore: Ametrine

According to Wikipedia: "Ametrine, also known as trystine or by its trade name as bolivianite, is a naturally occurring variety of quartz. It is a mixture of amethyst and citrine with zones of purple and yellow or orange. Almost all commercially available ametrine is mined in Bolivia, although there are deposits being exploited in Brazil and India."

Ametrine is said to help soothe fear, anxiety, trauma and depression, and enhance ones insight and clarity.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Selling at Art Shows - Do You Know Your Demographic?

Nothing beats getting out and showing your work and learning which of your creations is the most popular. It may take some time to figure this out, but once you do, you can focus on creating more like items. That's why I recommend signing up for local art fairs and festivals, and not just relying on consignment and selling online. You need to personally interact with customers and see how they react to your work and what they buy in order to discover your customer base, or demographic. Knowing your demographic, or what types of people are most interested in your work is helpful because you can focus on creating for them and marketing to them.

Since I do underwater photography and paint marine life, I thought scuba divers would be my biggest marine life photography customers. Boy was I wrong! Most scuba divers are equipped with inexpensive point and shoot digital underwater cameras these days, so they take their own pictures. I do sell some of my paintings to them because while they can all take pictures, not very many of them can paint. It's people with small children, people who love the beach and people who are decorating their bathrooms and beach houses that buy my art. Children are actually one of my biggest demographics. They are attracted to my colorful sea creature art and will bring their parents into my booth. Often, the child will fall in love with one of my pieces and the parents will buy it for them. Somethimes a child can also kill a sale. When the parent likes something and shows it to the child and they don't react, it usually means no sale. Also I love to see couples come in with infants in strollers, they will often buy my art for their child's nursery.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fall Art Shows

I just learned that Coral Reef Dreams jewelry has been juried and accepted to the Buda Fine Art Festival, October 3-4, 2009. Here is my current list of fall art shows:


Sept. 26-27 (Sat. Sun.): Fall Old Pecan Street Festival, Austin (jewelry, paintings, photography)

Oct. 1 (Thurs. 5-10 pm): First Thursday at Hill Country Weavers, 1701 S. Congress (jewelry)

Oct. 3-4 (Sat. Sun): Buda Fine Art Festival, Buda (jewelry)

Oct. 10 (Sat. noon-6): Austin Handmade Market, 2009 S. 1st St, Austin (jewelry)

Nov. 28 (Sat. noon-6): Austin Handmade Market, 2009 S. 1st St, Austin (jewelry)

Dec. 5-6 (Sat. Sun.) Holiday Art Fest at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center (paintings, photography)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Gemstone Lore: Amethyst

According to Wikipedia, Amethyst is a violet variety of quartz often used in jewelry. The name comes from the Ancient Greek a- ("not") and methustos ("intoxicated"), a reference to the belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness; the ancient Greeks and Romans wore amethyst and made drinking vessels of it in the belief that it would prevent intoxication.

Synthetic amethyst is made to imitate the best quality amethyst. Its chemical and physical properties are so similar to that of natural amethyst that it can not be differentiated with absolute certainty without advanced gemological testing (which is often cost-prohibitive).

Amethyst is supposed to magnify psychic ability, helps to strengthens immunity and relieve headaches. It is a symbol of sincerity, security and peace of mind.

Birthstone: February, Aquarius (Water Bearer): Jan. 21-Feb. 18, Wedding anniversary: 4th and 6th year

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Austin Fashion Designers Are Hot!

My Team Etsy Austin friend, jewelry designer Kimberly Sae-Eua received a great writeup in today's Austin American Statesman. She recently won the title of Best Fashion Designer Rising Star at the Austin Fashion Awards. Read about Kim and Austin's hot fashion scene:

http://www.statesman.com/life/content/life/stories/style/2009/07/30/0730marques.html

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Selling at Art Shows - Is Your Art Right for the Region or Locale?

Since my art is primarily ocean and beach themed, my market here in Central Texas is somewhat limited. Actually, when I first started selling my work, I wondered if it would sell at all, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it sells as well as it does. But, it is a niche market, and so I don't do as well as artists who's works have local interest. I did some market research and learned that local scenes are the number one best selling painting subject. So, I started matting and framing some of my photos of local scenes printed on Polaroid film and hand colored with watercolors. In addition, I started painting bluebonnets and other wildflowers. I have found that both sell quite well, and they have expanded my market considerably. Try making a portion of what you are selling have local interest, not only does it appeal to people living in the area, but also tourists looking for souvenirs to take home.

Next: Do You Know Your Demographic?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gemstone Lore: Amazonite

Amazonite is a green variety of microcline feldspar mined primarily in Colorado, and also found in small amounts in Brazil, Canada, Italy and Russia. Although its name is derived from the Amazon River, no deposits have been found there. It is said to make the skin better, releases fear and anxiety, and makes your married life happier.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Why Isn't My Art Selling? - Is Your Art Seasonal?

I find that my wall art sales vary with the seasons. Because my art is nature themed, sales pick up in the spring when people are starting to think about spring cleaning and decorating, and when the wildflowers are blooming. I do well during the holiday season, but 2D art is not as ‘gifty” as say, jewelry, so I don’t have higher holiday sales like a lot of crafters do (one reason I started making jewelry). I also find that I do well in January. That’s right, after Christmas, people start spending money on themselves again instead of worrying about saving their money for gifts for others. And, a lot of young people have money to spend that they were given for Christmas. So, if you are experiencing a lull, perhaps it’s seasonal?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Summer Necklace Sale!

I have put select necklaces on sale in my Etsy shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5640224§ion_id=6294022

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gemstone Lore: Agate

Agate is believed to promote acceptance, stability, courage and good health, cure insomnia, quiet the pulse and provide pleasant dreams.

Birthstone: Taurus (Bull): April 20-May 20, Wedding anniversary: 12th year (moss agate specifically for the 14th year).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tips for Artists - Selling At Art Shows - How Are You Displaying Your Art?

You don't have to go out and spend a thousand dollars on fancy display panels for your work to show well (although it doesn’t hurt). It does, however, help to get your work on eye level. It also helps if your display is designed to attract attention. For me, this means bringing 2 or 3 large, colorful framed originals. These don’t sell very often, but they are key items in my display. I also bring a few framed originals priced at $100 and under, which sell more often, although if it were not for prints, I would not have a viable business.

If you sell prints, make sure that they are clearly labeled as such otherwise you will confuse your customers. You might even want to separate your originals from your prints for the same reason. Most of the bigger art shows require it. Put them in a print rack or browse bin clearly labeled “Prints”, people like to flip through those. I usually include one framed print in my display so people can visualize what they will look like framed and see the quality up next to my originals.

It's nice to make your space feel warm and homey, especially if you are selling decor pieces. Rugs, flowers or other decorations are nice touches. However, be careful of busy backgrounds that might keep your customers from focusing on your art. A neutral backdrop with little or no pattern is best. I subscribe to the minimalist school, so my booth is void of extraneous items.

Some people swear that a dark colored backdrop (black or dark grey) is the only way to go because it makes the artwork “pop”. I think it depends on what type of art you have. Black and white photography definitely calls for a dark background. I prefer a light background, the color of a sandy beach to go with my ocean-themed art. Also, make sure your work is well lit, especially if you have bright colors. If you are displaying in a tent, you want a white canopy. Colored covers will change and dull the colors in your paintings/photos.

Next: Is Your Art Seasonal?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Don't Give Your Art Away - Latest Response

I received yet another request to donate art to a charity auction. First, the person asked me to donate art, then jewelry (like it's not art! duh!). Here is my reply:

Thank you for appreciating my art and my handmade jewelry. The same applies to all of my art, jewelry included. I need to get at least 50% of the sale price. If that would work, then I would be glad to participate. Please understand that I get an unbelievable number of requests like this. If I gave my art away to every one I got, I would have nothing left! This is not a hobby, but a business at which I work full time, I do this to make a living. I don't work for free, and I don't like the mentality that artist's should give their work away for free. That is why I will not participate in charity auctions unless I get a percentage. I hope you understand.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tips for Artists - Selling at Art Shows - How Are You Packaging Your Art?

I have found that some people prefer to purchase art that is "ready to hang", but the majority like to purchase art that is matted to a standard size so they don't have to pay a lot for custom framing. You don't have to mat and frame every piece, but you should have a few framed pieces for presentation purposes, and so your customers can visualize how your art will look framed. You should have at least some matted as well, and keep a few mats with you and offer to mat them on the spot for an additional fee.

I sell all of my originals and prints matted. I used to keep one matted and one un-matted copy of each print, but I got too many, so now I just have them matted, and it doesn’t seem to make any difference in my sales. Sometimes I think it is better not to give people too many options because it confuses them. Always protect your matted art with a plastic sleeve, or they will get dirty and/or scratched quickly, and will probably not sell. I have even had people ask for a discount because the plastic sleeve was dirty!

I use white mats and simple frames, because they are safe. We would like to believe that people buy art because they fall in love with it, but the reality is most people are buying a “picture to go with their couch”. Colored mats and fancy frames lock the piece into a specific color scheme and/or style. They can also focus the customer on the packaging rather than the artwork. I bought a lot of gold frames thinking they were what people wanted. It took years to get rid of them all, and some I had to sell on eBay or paint them another color before they would sell. I will never buy another gold frame again.

When people are buying artworks or prints as gifts, especially at Christmas, I have found that they prefer them to be matted but not framed. Mat your work to standard sizes: 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, 16x20, 18x24, etc. That way, your customers have the option of buying a ready made frame instead of having to pay the high prices of custom framing. Also, offer your framed pieces unframed. To do this, the backs cannot be sealed, and they have to have bendable framers points so that the artwork can be removed. I only buy frames that have “flex” points.

Be sure your framed pieces are matted with a nice wide border (1 1/2" minimum for 8x10, 2" for 11x14 and 16x20, 3" for 18x24 and larger). Avoid framing prints with a white border instead of a mat, or with no border and no mat. It looks cheap and will probably not sell. Also, it is really bad for the art to touch the glass. If the art is exposed to moisture or heat, it could make it stick to the glass and ruin it, and if you are selling outdoors, the chances of that happening are high. A mat is not only for looks, it keeps the piece from coming into direct contact with the glass.

Next: How Are You Displaying Your Art?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tips for Artists - Selling at Art Shows - Do You Sell Prints of Your Paintings?

Unless you have original paintings of extremely popular subjects or that are priced really low, originals will sell slowly. Most people can only afford prints, you will have a better chance of making sales if you have prints of your work available for sale. My biggest selling prints are 8"x10" matted to 11"x14". I also bring a few 12"x16" prints matted to 20"x24", but they sell very slowly.

Be sure your prints are archival. Just because they are printed on acid free paper does not mean they are archival. If the ink fades in a year or two, you are going to have some unhappy customers. Don't use your desktop inkjet printer to make fine art prints. Most of them use dye-based inks that fade almost immediately. You will need to purchase a printer that uses lightfast, permanent pigment inks with an estimated life of not less than 30 years, or find a printing service that has one.

Whether or not you number your prints is up to you. I think it makes a difference in my sales to have limited edition giclee prints with certificates of authenticity of my watercolor paintings. It does not seem to be important for photographic prints, so I don’t number those, but I sell them at a lower price.

Notecards are also good to have; sometimes you can make your booth fee just on sales of notecards alone. However, be very careful about how you package them. If given the choice between a $4 5"x7" notecard and a $25 8x10 matted print, most people will buy and frame the notecard rather than putting out the money for a matted print. Never sell notecards individually or in variety packs because they will compete with/lower the value of your prints. Sell them in packages of all the same image, or only sell singles/variety packs of things you do not sell prints of.

Next: How Are You Packaging Your Art?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Why Isn't My Art Selling? - Is Your Art Priced Right?

This is the hardest part for an artist who is just starting to sell their work. There is some truth to the notion of "perceived value". Prices that are too low are sometimes just as bad as too high because the customer might think that you used sub-standard materials, are an amateur or that you do not perceive yourself as a good artist. If you do not believe in yourself, then how can you expect your customers to?

What are other similar artworks selling for locally? You should do some research to find that out. Visit other art shows where the artists are selling their own work and look at their prices. Ask them if the pricing is working for them then compare apples to apples.

A guideline I have seen on the Internet is $1.00 sq/ft. for an original painting. Another is number of hours at a reasonable price per hour plus materials. I applied the second guideline to a group of my paintings I thought represented my normal work, then converted to an average price per square inch that I now apply to all of my paintings. I take into consideration things like difficulty and finished quality and adjust the prices of individual pieces accordingly. If my pieces are selling too fast, I raise the prices until they stop selling and vice versa. Try adjusting your prices and see if it helps.

Next: If You Are A Painter, Do You Sell Prints Of Your Work?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Tips For Artists and Crafters: Selling At Art Shows - Why Isn't My Art Selling?

This is the introduction to a 6-part series on increasing your art sales. I am always happy to share what I have learned at my art shows, so if I do not cover an issue of particular importance to you in this series, feel free to post a question. Although this information may not work for everybody, and mostly pertains to painting and photography, some of it could apply to other mediums as well.

You have excellent art, priced right and nicely displayed, but you are not making any sales. If you are having an off weekend, hang in there and don’t give up, it happens to everyone. Sales are very much dependent on the right customer coming through at the right time in a buying frame of mind who likes your work. But, if you have had several shows in a row with low or no sales when other artists are doing well, then perhaps you need to make some changes. This happens to me occasionally, and when it does, I start questioning what I am doing or not doing to cause the problem. Basically, my advice in a nutshell is if it's not working try something different. If you are interested in more details, continue to monitor my blog for the next installments.

Next: Is Your Art Priced Right?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Austin Fashion Week Trunk Show

You're invited - Austin Fashion Week - Coral Reef Dreams Ocean Inspired Jewelry Trunk Show @ Roxann's Specialty Boutique 2900 West Anderson Ln. Ste. H, July 14 4:30-7:00. I will be rolling out my newest creations.

Don't forget to vote for your favorite designers - http://www.fashionweekaustin.com

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Don't Give Your Art Away

The attached letter came yesterday via email from the U.T. School of Biological Sciences. It's not a request from a charity, but from people who make a heck of a lot more money than artists do, in my case I would bet at least tenfold. I get a lot of these, some from good causes, many of them are scams, but this one got to me, maybe I was in a bad mood, or maybe just the last straw, I don't know, but I'm tired of getting these. Here is my reply:

Dear Mr. Franklin,

Per the notice on the contact page of my website, I ignore requests for donations of art. I donate a percentage of my art sales to coral reef conservation organizations and my husband and I donate a considerable amount of time, money and household goods to health and humanitarian organizations. There is a misconception about donated art being tax-deductible, only the materials used to create the art, not the value of the finished product is tax deductable. You are welcome to purchase a print on my website http://paulinewalshjacobson.com. They are reasonably priced and coral reef conservation is a great cause to support.

Pauline Walsh Jacobson

---------------------------

June 24, 2009

Dear Ms. Jacobson,

Good day! I just wanted to follow up on a letter I mailed to you a few weeks ago regarding a possible door prize donation for the U.T. School of Biological Sciences Staff Appreciation Luncheon to be held on July 15th, 2009. It is our hope that you might be willing to donate something (a gift certificate for one of your prints, etc.) that we can give to one or more of our staff members as a door prize. If you are interested in donating, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me by replying to this e-mail or by calling me at _____.

As I mentioned in my letter, we realize that in the current economy many are tightening their belts and we will understand if you cannot help out, but even something small would be great. Just remember, we are a non-profit educational organization and donated items are tax-deductible. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Steve Franklin

P.S. In case it helps in making a decision, I thought I should remind you of our plans for thanking our donors after the event. We will be putting up a thank you page in the news section of our main site (www.biosci.utexas.edu) which will list all of the businesses who helped us out and provide links to their websites. We hope this might help generate a tiny bit of extra business for those who donate.

Steve Franklin
Editor of In Vivo
Administrative Associate
Director's Office
School of Biological Sciences
The University of Texas at Austin

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Austin Fashion Week, July 13-19

I just learned that Coral Reef Dreams jewelry has been juried to participate in Austin Fashion Week! I will be hosted by Roxann's Specialty Boutique at 2900 W Anderson Ln. I will post more info as it becomes available. Click on the title above to go to Austin Fashion Week's website.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Larimar

I've been searching for larimar on the web to make jewelry with - very expensive. Bought some cabs to wire wrap. According to wikipedia, Larimar is a rare blue variety of pectolite found only in the Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean. Its coloration varies from white, light-blue, green-blue to deep blue. It is known as the dolphin stone, or Atlantis stone. Here's a photo of one of my most recent pieces made with Larimar:



Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Artist Reception at Happy Trails Gallery, Fri. June 26 4:30-7

Invitation from Steve and Robin at Happy Trails Gallery:

Howdy Partners,

We will have our next artist reception Friday, June 26th from 4:30-7:00 p.m. at Happy Trails Gallery in Northcross Mall. Art and photography by Robin Maca, Steve Reitz, Sue Kemp, Eileen Pestorius, Pauline Walsh Jacobson and others will be featured. Hope to see you all there!

Celebrate Friday with Art and Wine:

Date: Friday, June 26, 2009
Time: 4:30pm - 7:00pm
Location: The Gallery of Salons, Northcross Mall
Street: 2525 West Anderson Ln.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Gift From The Sea

"One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach; one can collect only a few, and they are more beautiful if they are few." --Anne Morrow Lindbergh from Gift From The Sea

I love this book, and highly recommend it.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Another Etsy Treasury

Another piece of CoralReefDreams jewelry is featured in an Etsy treasury: http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=63498. This one's called Surf City, A taste of Santa Monica and Venice Beach Style From Around the Hood. It was created by Donnielle (http://DesignKnitFun.etsy.com). My piece is called Venice Beach, and is a simple surfer style necklace of sterling silver and turquoise on a faux leather slip knot cord - http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=23976648. Thanks Donnielle!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

On Vacation

I'm on vacation right now, will post more after I return on June 14.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Great Advice for Artists

When I was just beginning to show and sell my paintings and photography, I ran across this quote by Alan Bamberger at http://artbusiness.com. I think there is a lot of wisdom in his words, and I often refer to it for inspiration:

"The passage of time is far more important than strategizing for success. Make art, get it out there, do what you have to do so that as many people see your art as possible, prove that you're a going concern, that you're in this for the duration, you're committed, you're not going to give up, and that nothing will stop you. Sooner or later, others will begin believing in you just like you believe in yourself, and that's when good things start happening."

Here's an excerpt from the about us page on his website: "Alan Bamberger, is an art consultant, advisor, author, and independent appraiser specializing in research, appraisal, and all business and market aspects of original works of art, artist manuscript materials, art-related documents, and art reference books. Alan's site is full of great information on the business of art, and anybody who is or is thinking about selling their art should read every word."

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blues On The Green

I just signed up to participate in Etsy Austin's sponsor booth at KGSR's Blues On The Green, July 29, music by Carolyn Wonderland. Gonna be hot in more ways than one! It's free to the public - 5-9pm at Waterloo Park, so come on out and hear some of Austin's great live music. Click on the title for a link to KGSR's website.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thought For The Day

Today's quote is from George Carlin: "Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town" - So true!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Selling at Art Shows - Demonstrating Your Craft

People love to see an artist at work with their media of choice. Not all artists are able to bring their "studio" to a show for various reasons such as the need for special equipment, safety issues and space considerations. Painting, jewelry making and fiber media are some things that work well.

Also, there may be times when the show is slow, so having something to work on will help keep you from getting bored. If you can't work on your art, you can bring a computer, something to read or something else to do. Some people will feel that they are interrupting your work, and will not stick around, so working at a show can actually hurt your sales if you are not careful. Always stop whatever you are doing when it gets busy or there are customers in your space, and always greet your customer.

One way to make sure working at a show does not get in the way of sales is to set aside specific times for demonstrations, and hang a sign in your space advertising those times. You can also include the times in any promotions you send out to customers such as emails, postcards, etc.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Coral Reef Dreams Featured in Etsy Treasury

I'm so excited, for the first time one of my jewelry pieces is featured in an Etsy treasury! http://www.etsy.com/treasury_list.php?room_id=60352

The treasury was created by Leilani Cleveland Deveau from Quebec - http://heavenlyflower.etsy.com. It is titled "A Tribute to {Heavenly Flower}, Things That Speak To Me". It is primarily made up of items whose creators have given them the name LeiLani.

My Leilani is a black pearl necklace:

"Leilani was the Hawaiian princess in the John Wayne movie, Donovan's Reef. This necklace is certainly fit for a princess! I have paired top quality, near-round black freshwater pearls with gold vermeil spacer beads to create this elegant necklace. It is finished with a gold filled toggle clasp and pearl dangle that can be worn either in the front or back. The length is 18". The original version of this necklace was created using white pearls and emeralds, and can be found in the Beach Wedding section of my Etsy shop - http://coralreefdreams.etsy.com."

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering our Veterans on Memorial Day

If you click on the title above, you will be taken to a website I set up for my Dad so he can share the photos he took of B24 nose art during World War II. Here's the story:

These photos of the famed B24 "Liberator" were taken by Mr. James V. Walsh while he served as ground crew with the 13th airborne division, 307th bomb group while stationed in the Pacific theatre during World War II. He set up a "darkroom" in a tent where he developed photographs taken of the planes, pilots and their crews with an Ansco Shur Shot standard "box" camera. The darkroom equipment consisted of a handmade wooden box with a light bulb built into it that would be turned on for a short time to expose the film.

Because the B-24’s were routinely flying photo-reconnaissance missions, film, which came on large rolls, was readily available from the "photo shack". Mr. Walsh would cut the film to fit his camera’s small rolls. The pilots, while on R&R in Australia, would obtain the necessary chemicals to process the negatives. What started out as a personal interest in taking and developing photographs, soon turned into a small enterprise, with the pilots and crew members posing for and buying "sets" of photos for "a buck apiece". While photographing the planes and flight crews, he also photographed the unique and interesting "Nose Art".

Photography runs in the Walsh family. James V. Walsh is my father, and I inherited my love of photography from him, as did my sister, Betty Dismukes. Today, Mr. Walsh and his wife, Rose live in Fannett, Texas, just west of Beaumont on 10 acres of land, where he cares for his menagerie of livestock. He travels annually to the 307th bomb group reunions, and he still has the old box camera with which he took these photos. Considering the simplicity of the camera and the crudeness of his "lab", I think these photos are remarkable.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Telesto's Amulet



Telesto is Saturn's tenth moon. In Greek mythology Telesto was a sea nymph, a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. I love this connection between the ocean and astronomy, so I decided to make something that tells the story. To create Telesto's Amulet, I encased a rose quartz teardrop in a lacy net of sterling silver wire, and added it to a necklace of figure 8 chain, faceted aquamarine briolettes, apatite and rose quartz roundels and carved rose quartz suns and moons. This was a one of a kind necklace that was sold several months ago. I think it may be my most strange, unusual and creative piece yet, so I thought I would share it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thought For The Day

"Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war."  - Loren Eiseley

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sandy Feet

There was an article in this morning's Austin American Statesman about a professional sand sculptor from South Padre Island. She goes by Sandy Feet, and I recognized her a someone I am following on Twitter - @sandyfeet. I thought that was pretty cool! Click on the title to visit the Statesman's website and read the article.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thought For The Day

"Why do we love the sea? It is because it has some potent power to make us think things we like to think." --Robert Henri

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Selling at Art Shows - Establishing a Connection

Art is a luxury, it rarely sells itself, it requires some effort on your part.

When you establish a connection between your customer and you/your art, your chances of making a sale go way up. You don't have to give them the hard sell, that usually puts people off, but a little friendly conversation can get the ball rolling in getting your customer to ask you about how you make your art.

Make small talk - "How did you hear about the show?", or "Aren't we having great weather!", etc. But give them a minute to browse your booth and soak in what they see before saying anything, especially if they are studying a particular piece. And, unless they are acting really interested, don't ask them if they would like to hear about your art, or launch into an unsolicited, detailed explanation of your work, that can be annoying. Let them ask you first. And better yet, try to get them to tell you a little about themselves.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Support Ocean Conservation

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop." --Mother Teresa

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Selling at Art Shows - Greeting Customers

Many artists have a lot of sales experience, and know this stuff, but a lot of artists are new at selling. Before becoming a full time artist, I spent several years with a high tech company selling at trade shows, and attended a few sales seminars during that time. I would like to share a couple of things I learned and practice that are guaranteed to increase your sales.

Always greet your customer - When a customer walks into my booth, I stop whatever I am doing, stand up, smile and say "Hi, how are you today?" I learn a lot about the customer by watching their body language and by hearing their response. If they frown, say nothing or say "I'm fine" without looking at me, that usually means leave me alone, so I let them be, but if they turn around and give me a big warm smile and say "I'm just having the greatest day", that's my cue to take the next step and try to start a conversation.

When they leave, even if they don't seem interested in your work, smile again and say thanks for stopping by or something similar. Just because they didn't stay long or say anything doesn't necessarily mean they aren't interested in your work. Often they go around and look at everything before they make a decision, and they return and buy something. I have had that happen many times.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Thought For The Day

I am ready to go to the beach. "I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each." -- T. S. Eliot

Saturday, May 16, 2009

My Most Recent Sea Turtle Painting

A curious sea turtle swims up to check me out while I am diving on a sunny day on the reef.

 

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Outdoor Art Shows - Art Show Etiquette

12 Rules of Etiquette for Art Shows - This applies to any art show, not just outdoors.

1. Get there early enough to be completely set up when the show opens, and never start packing up until the show is over.

2. Confine your product and display material to your alotted space and be careful not to encroach upon your neighbor's space.

3. If you have products (i.e. scents and sounds) that may have an impact beyond the confines of your booth, be sensitive to the impact of those products on other artists and the public.

4. Conduct yourself in a professional and business-like manner while selling at the show.

5. Do not approach a customer viewing another artist’s display.

6. Do not make derogatory remarks about another artist or their work.

7. Do not "hawk" your wares. Hawking is defined as offering goods for sale aggressively by calling out.

8. Refrain from using profanity, and from behavior that is verbally or physically abusive or dangerous and disruptive.

9. If you bring children or pets to your show, do not allow them to interfere with other artists or customers.

10. Be responsible for the behavior of friends and family members who visit your booth during the show, and if their behavior is disruptive, ask them to stop or ask them to leave.

11. Be helpful. Lend your neighbor a helping hand, especially if you see someone struggling with their setup for the first time, or in stressful situations such as when bad weather threatens.

12. Don't leave a mess behind, pick up your trash, i.e. cigarette butts, napkins, cut off zip ties, etc.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Thought For The Day

"A real friend is someone who takes a winter vacation on a sun-drenched beach and does not send a card." --Farmer’s Almanac

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Deleted by the author

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Outdoor Art Shows - Stuff You'll be Glad You Have in Your Tent

In addition to the main items you will need to display your art (tent, table, chair, panels, racks, lights, etc.), there are a lot of small things that can go a long way in making your arts and crafts show safe and comfortable:

Small ice chest
Bottled water
Non-perishable snacks
Sunscreen
Bug spray
Waterless hand sanitizer
Wet wipes
Band aids, first aid kit
Paper towels
Tissues
Toilet paper
Scotch tape
Notepad
Business cards
Pens and pencils
Calculator
Permanent marker
Scissors
Screwdrivers
Pliers
Hammer
Pocket knife
Drapery hooks and/or s-hooks
Small clamps
Zip electrical ties
Duct tape
Plastic tarp
Plastic bags, zip-loc bags
Bungee cords
Flashlight
Extra batteries
Portable lantern
Portable fan and/or heater
Extension cord and power strip
Umbrella
Step stool or short folding ladder

Space to haul things back and forth is usually limited, so keep it compact. I put all of my small stuff in a tool box, and have several tote bags I can mix and match things in based on season, day or night (fans, heaters, lights).

This is a short list and I am sure there are lots of things that can be added, so feel free to comment with your suggestions.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Quote Of The Day

"We all leave footprints in the sand. The question is will we be a big heel or a great soul?" Author Unknown

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Outdoor Art Shows - Dealing with Heat

I live in Central Texas (Austin), and this was written based on my experiences here, but it has relevance for just about anywhere. Summer here typically means temperatures in the mid 90's and up. It is important to make sure you do not get heat exhaustion, or worse, end up in the hospital with heat stroke.

Chill a couple of plastic water bottles in the fridge the night before and pop them into a small ice chest with some ice. If that supply is not enough, bring an extra bottle with a wide mouth and/or a plastic glass you can add ice to. Drink, drink, drink! Gatorade or other electrolyte replenisher is good too, but mostly drink plain old water.

Bring a bandana you can wet with ice water and put around your neck, it is amazing how much it will help keep you cool. Also, bring a small towel you can wet with ice water to wash your face, hands, feet, etc.

Bring a couple of fans, one for yourself and one for your customers. If there's no electricity available, buy some small battery operated camping fans at Academy, one for you and at least a couple to set on your tables to blow on your customers while they're browsing. They'll appreciate it and will stay in your space longer. I also hang a couple from the tent structure to keep the air circulating.

If you are willing to spend a little extra, you can lower the temperature in your tent by 10-15 degrees by creating a "ceiling" with shade cloth. It can be purchased in the garden department of Home Depot or Lowes for approx. $30 for a 6' x 20' roll. Side panels made of shade cloth can also be used instead of walls to keep out the sun but still let in a little air. They can be hung from the tent structure with small clamps or bungie cords. Shade cloth also blocks 90% of uv rays, good for you and for your art!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Outdoor Art Shows - Dealing With Weather

I live in Central Texas (Austin), and this was written based on my experiences here, but it has relevance for just about anywhere.

As one who has had the top of my tent ripped off by a big wind gust as a wet cold front blew through, and had my works on paper ruined on several occassions, I have learned some important lessons:

Always have a big piece of heavy plastic or a plastic tarp handy to throw over your stuff.

Always put your sides up, even if the weather service says no chance of rain. Roll them up and be ready to drop them at a moment's notice.

Always use weights, minimum 25 pounds on each leg, even if it has been dead calm for days. This is Texas and the weather will turn on you in an instant.

Always bungee or zip tie everything down, especially standing displays. The tiniest little wind gust will knock everything over, sometimes on other people and their displays, causing injuries and damage. Big paintings become sails in the wind.

Office Depot and Office Max have nice plastic file boxes with lids that, yes, are more expensive, but the money you will save by not having your work damaged by the elements is well worth it. 8x10 and 11x14 matted art fits nicely into them. Bigger plastic bins with lids, "sweater boxes" can be found at Target.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Freeform Larimar Pendant



This is my first pendant forged with fire. I melted scrap sterling silver wire into a freeform base, then attached a larimar cabochon using the woven wire bezel technique. It never made it to my Etsy store, sold it at First Thursday last week.

Friday, May 8, 2009

First Thursday On South Congress, Austin, Texas, May 8, 2008

First Thursday was good, met some new people, made some sales, had fun. Set up across from Hey Cupcake who had a flamenco guitarist, nice!

A team of officials, including police and the fire marshall went around and checked business for temporary use permits. If you do First Thursday, make sure your host business has aquired this permit to allow you to vend.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tips for Artists and Crafters - Outdoor Fairs and Festivals - Tents

I am starting a series of blogs with helpful information for artists and crafters who want to do outdoor shows. It is aimed at people who live in the Central Texas area, but much of the information will be relevant to any region. My first installment is about tents.

Most outdoor shows require artists to bring their own display equipment, including tent, tables, chairs, display panels, etc.

I recommend the EZ-Up Encore II tent that Sam's Club carries. It is commercial grade and comes with 4 sides, an awning and carry bag with wheels for $199. I have used these for years and they are excellent. Awhile back Sam's started carrying another model that didn't stand up very well to the wind, and after lots of complaints they went back to the Encore II.



Costco also has a similar tent (another brand) that I have heard is good, but I only have experience with the EZ-Up.

An alternative if your art will not be harmed if it gets wet is the EZ-Up Express that Academy Sports and Outdoors carries for $150. It is just the canopy with no sides, awning or carry bag, and is less expensive, however, it is not as heavy duty as the Encore II that Sam's carries. Also, if you should decide later that you want sides, Academy does carry them, I think they are 2 for $30, so you end up paying more.

White tents are preferred if you are a fine artist, you want those viewing your art to see the colors in natural light. Academy Sports and Outdoors also carries an inexpensive blue-top canopy, the Quick Shade Weekender for $60 that is fine for crafters, but it does change the colors of your work.

Weights are a MUST, the wind in Central Texas is unpredictable. You need 80-100 lbs. minimum. 2 gallon water jugs make good weights, so do cinder blocks but they are ugly. I use 25 lb dumbells I got at Academy for $12.99 ea., and I attach them to the tent with ratcheting tiedowns I got at Home Depot. You can get a set of 4 tiedowns for around $20. People also make weights by filling pvc pipe with cement.

There are many more options for tents, weights and tiedowns. You can get ideas that might work for you by visiting local outdoor arts and crafts shows or farmer's markets.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Greg Davis Wins Green Art Award at '09 ArtExpo in New York

My good friend Greg Davis won a Green Art Award at the 2009 International ArtExpo in New York. Click on the title to see a video of Greg accepting his award from Wyland.

OMG Greg, you are such a big star! Of course, you know the first time I saw your work, I knew that!

First Thursday, May 7, 2009

Am I crazy or what? I just signed up for First Thursday tomorrow in front of Hill Country Weavers, and it's going to be 95 degrees! I'll be selling my ocean inspired jewelry. Click on the title above for event details.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spring Pecan Street Festival, Austin, Texas

Last weekend I had a booth at Pecan Street, and I was interviewed by Fox 7 News because I had a bottle of hand sanitizer in my booth. (click on the title above to see video). The great thing is that they panned over some of my paintings, so they got on TV too. I did have one shopper come in because she liked one of my paintings she saw on TV, Purple Passion (Passion Flower).



We really lucked out and had great weather, although it was pretty hot and steamy on Saturday, but Sunday was really nice. Thanks to all that came by my booth and to all who purchased my art. I had a great show!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Upcoming Art Shows


Wow, all of the art shows I have done this spring have been amazing. What economic slump? Thanks to all who have purchased my art at the shows. I have two more coming up: This weekend I will be at the Red Poppy Festival in Georgetown, TX, with my jewelry, paintings and photography. Next weekend I'll be at the Old Pecan Street Festival on 6th Street in downtown Austin. Come out and see me! Check my websites for show dates and times.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Coral Reef Dreams Ocean Inspired Art

I often have wonderful dreams about diving on a beautiful coral reef and seeing fantasy coral gardens, fish and sea creatures from another world. I also have similar dreams about walking along a beach and seeing beautiful seashells like none I have ever seen washing up at my feet. So, I decided to name my ocean-inspired jewelry line Coral Reef Dreams.

I am an artist, photographer, jewelry designer. I scuba dive and photograph coral reefs and marine life, and use the photos as inspiration for my watercolor paintings and jewelry designs. I have been painting since I was in junior high school, but I just started making jewelry about two years ago.

Born on the Texas coast in Port Arthur, I spent a lot of time at the beach and fishing with Dad, and grew to love the ocean and seashore. I also love to collect seashells and beach glass, some of which get incorporated into my jewelry designs. I have a bachelor's degree in fine art from Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and enjoyed a long career in graphic design and cartography, and eventually moved into geographic information system sales and marketing. In 2001, I left my job to become a full-time artist. My husband, Julian "Kent" Jacobson and I love to travel to tropical places to snorkel and scuba dive. Websites: http://coralreefdreams.etsy.com (jewelry) http://paulinewalshjacobson.com (paintings, photography)