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