Inside an Etsy shop

No matter what else is going on in my life, my Etsy shop is open for business and humming along in the background, taking online orders from people all over the world. I opened Earthshards in 2012. Actually, it was the my second shop – anybody remember those kindle covers that I used to make? Boy, were those suckers labor-intensive.

There’s always stock on hand for the Earthshards shop, small earthenware faces that I make in the evenings when I’m not busy. I usually make about 80 each time, which takes two hours or so. They take a day to dry. After they are fired, they are sorted by clay type.

White and terra cotta unfinished clay faces

When I get an order, I select the faces according to the quantity and finish requested. Buyers can order three different finishes, Rune and Relic (walnut ink), Celtic Forge (metallic layers), or Mesa Verde (faux turquoise). I can’t do the finishes in advance because I never know who will want what, so they are finished at the time the orders are received.

From top left clockwise: Celtic Forge, Mesa Verde, and Rune and Relic finishes

Yesterday’s orders set a record – ten! Three were from other countries – Canada, the Netherlands, and Australia.

Etsy orders printed and in progress

After the orders are sorted and laid out, each face is finished with walnut ink, wiped with a studio cloth, and signed on the back.

Then other finishes are applied.Here are some faces getting the Celtic Forge treatment. This takes about four separate layers of various metallics.

The Mesa Verde finish is done with hand-applied acrylics. It’s much like the faux-turquoise finish I wrote about in a recent post.

Once all of the faces are completed, each one is individually wrapped in bubble wrap.

The orders are then wrapped in tissue with ribbon with a packing slip, a skeleton leaf for decoration, one of my business cards, and, of course, a thank-you note..

The wrapped package goes into a padded envelope and weighed for postage. Most postage is $3-$4, but it cost about $24 to send that little package to the Netherlands!

Etsy makes it easy to calculate postage and print labels. You can print them out on your own printer and stick them on. I use spray adhesive. Here are the packages waiting for their labels – then off they will go to the Post Office this morning!

It’s fun to have an Etsy shop. The best part is knowing that your work is going out all over the world to inspire other artists. The extra income is nice, too, but rarely do you get rich with your shop! And it’s definitely a bit of work, as you can see, but you can usually pace yourself.

If you’re thinking about opening your own Etsy shop, here’s a good article on what sells best on Etsy – the trick is to have a niche, I think.

And here’s an example of a creative idea that makes a ton of money on Etsy:

Confetti Momma is a popular party supply shop with more than 75,000 sales, thanks to vibrant colors, unicorn cake toppers, and endless boutique confetti. Confetti Momma found an engaged demographic on Etsy by offering trendy, handmade party supplies at an affordable price.

“My advice is to just get started,” Orillion said. “Let your customers tell you what they like or don’t like and then adjust. Today’s social selling platforms, such as Etsy, make it easy for your products to go viral, especially if you focus on delivering great customer service and a quality product.”

So there you have it – what goes on inside an Etsy shop! If you need advice, just send me an email. And if you know how to take digital photos of your work, you can be in business!

 

Making stuff – a LOT o’ stuff

Hope your Thanksgiving was super – mine was blessedly relaxing – a real day off from work. For some reason, I had forgotten what it’s like to get ready for a studio sale since encaustic exhibits and guests artists have been my focus lately, but I was hard at work all day in the Studio Tuesday and Wednesday getting ready for Saturday’s Big Ol’ Sale with Lesta, Michelle, and Alison.

This morning I’m finishing up some earthenware pieces.  I’m especially excited about the new little “B Beautiful” dishes because a portion will go to The Honeybee Conservancy for research to combat Colony Collapse and ensure that the bees will continue to thrive and produce honey and beeswax. Can’t do encaustic without beeswax. Can’t enjoy a sopaipilla without honey! Here’s a preview of the B Beautiful dishes. They are a perfect size for rings, paper clips, cough drops, hearing aids (what?), jelly beans – and at just $10 each, they make lovely hostess gifts for a cause:

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Other pieces I’ve been making are be-ribboned Encantos (charms) and HeartShard Blessing holders (larger wall-hung clay pockets). All are made from fired clay and enhanced with sari silk ribbon. Here are some of those – I especially like the new ivory ones from white clay……

Finally, I’ve created some new pendants and face shards – some are strung as necklaces and some are loose, ready for you to play with.

home2 pendants

If you’re in San Antonio, don’t let the predicted cold weather keep you away from the Big Ol’ Art Sale – it will be cozy in the Studio and there will be lots of beautiful art and tasty refreshments. OK, back to work!! See you tomorrow, 10-4 at the Studio!

 

 

 

Curious evolution of a work on canvas

dissofmem2Where do art ideas come from? Darned if I know – Here’s a piece that invented itself from 12 clay face slabs I made last week just because I didn’t want to throw away too-dry clay. The piece is called “Dissolution of Remembrance” because forgetting the names of objects and misplacing small items worries me, and I know I’m not alone in that.

I used these unplanned clay pieces to address this worry through an art piece. I arranged the fired earthenware slabs in an almost irregular pattern on a 24×30″ canvas, then sewed and adhered them in place. First came a wash of walnut ink (of course). Then I added some red oxide acrylic paint – here’s what it looked like at that stage – kinda disjointed.

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I tried to make it more cohesive with various colors of paint, attempting to suggest a progression of memory loss, and finally got the idea of putting rusted wire inside each head – it didn’t really work. Suddenly, I remembered talking about cheesecloth in my last post, and added a layer of cheesecloth over the whole composition to unite the elements. That was a good decision.

After that, there was lots of action going on with matte medium and fabric stiffener. Next came a thin coat of encaustic wax. Finally I added branches to allude to the branching dendrites in the brain. Science occasionally comes in handy 🙂

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The last element, silk cocoons, was another accident – the plastic bag of cocoons was open on the table nearby and the silk kept catching on the branches – well, duh – how obvious was that? So, on they went. Symbols of hatching new thoughts?

I’m not sure “The Dissolution of Remembrance” is completely finished, but it’s been amazing to watch the process as both the maker and the observer. Now if I could just remember where I put it –  – – only kidding. I think.  dissofmem1

Creating with invisible directions

It’s hard to explain how it feels when the parts take over and show you where they need to go – sounds kind of weird. But I just finished a Shardian assemblage that did just that. This figurative piece had never existed before, so there were no directions, but the pieces fit together so smoothly that every piece that was put in place felt exactly right. I love it when that happens! Hmmm . . .this piece started right after my visit to Papa Jim’s . . . (hearing theme from Twilight Zone) . . .

 

Trust the process . . .but visit Papa Jim’s

I’m showing some new work at La Vida Gallery, opening on December 5th, and, in my typical procrastinative way, I’m still figuring out exactly what to do. So far, I know that some of the new work will be earthenware assemblage. Here are a few of the pieces in no particular order that are in my “Trust the process, you’ll get an idea” pile.

So for extra inspiration, I took a visit to that old San Antonio icon of eclectic voodoo and spirituality, Papa Jim’s Botanica. Here, you can find anything you might need for protection, luck, attracting a mate, getting art ideas, or paying a jail bond.

I did pass up the opportunity to buy the Special Mojo Bag ( IT WILL CONTAIN HERBS, STONES, TALISMAN, POWDERS, MEDALS, AND ANIMAL PARTS SUCH AS RATTLESNAKE FANG), but I came away with some nice incense and a fresh supply of ideas. Look! Something is starting to emerge from the “Trust the process” pile . . . . ooooooh . . . .stay tuned.

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Solstice Weekend report

Thanks to everyone who came out to greet Pablo and Beverly Solomon this weekend. We had fun with them – we even got a chance to visit the Matisse show at SAMA. It’s astonishingly good and wonderfully annotated. Pablo had just read a two volume biography of Matisse and entertained us with some funny, slightly racy behind-the-scenes commentary.

Sunday’s Earthshard Pendant Workshop was a quiet respite from the excitement of the Solstice festivities and Pablo Solomon’s successful opening.   Many thanks to Ann Pearce for being my collaborator on this session – I always learn so much from her (and from the workshop attendees).  Later in the week, I’ll pass along some information about how we did the finishes on our earthenware pendants (below). Happy Monday, All!

It’s showtime! Come fling with us . . .

Spring Fling springs open tomorrow morning at the Studio. My pals Lesta Frank, Alison Schockner, and Jan Longfellow will join me in our first show and sale of the year – hope you can drop by. There’s always lots to see, and lots of ideas and techniques to steal – er, I mean, emulate. I’ll have some new small textured earthenware adornment pieces, most around $8 or sotext1 text2 text3. Here’s are a few samples:

I’ll also have the new Milagrito hanging constructions and the first series of Shardian Angels (what a name).

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Anoba, Celtic forest goddess

Anoba, Celtic forest goddess

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out this elegant necklace that Jan Longfellow will have tomorrow – love the stone! And Lesta and Alison will have a huge assortment of gorgeous fibers and watercolors and treasure of all manner. See you tomorrow, 10-5, at the Studio for Spring Fling!
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You, too, can make a rooster shard . . .

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Rooster shard necklace and other pendants by Lyn Belisle

Sunday’s Earthenware Shard and Adornment workshop will be fun, and there’s one space left for a brave soul. We’ll play with clay and create pendants and faces and roosters. Well, maybe not everybody will want to make a rooster, but a friend asked me to make some rooster jewelry for a rooster aficionado that he knows. Always one for a challenge, I did it (see the necklace, above). You can use regular decorative stamps like this one on thin pieces of damp clay in all kinds of ways. After Sunday’s workshop is over, I will take the pieces home and fire them to Cone 05, then we’ll meet again on Wednesday evening to finish them and string them at Ann Pearce‘s jewelry studio next door. It’s one of my favorite workshops. Even the rooster part.

How (not to) fire a kiln

Being away from the Studio for two weeks meant playing catch-up when I got back. There were a lot of things I could do art-wise while I was gone, but creating earthenware and firing it was not one of them. Sunday was Clay Day – I made about 60 small and large face shards and small sculpture pieces such as pendants. Monday was hurry-up-and-dry-so-I-can-fire-the-kiln day. I loaded the kiln Monday afternoon even though some larger pieces were still damp (gulp). This is a huge NO-NO. I don’t want to see you guys trying this.

Do you see the little face on top of the big face? It’s completely dry – you can tell because it’s white, but the big piece underneath is gray. It’s damp, and anyone with any sense wouldn’t fire it at this point, but I propped the kiln lid open, let it stay on Low for a few hours, and crossed my fingers that it would dry out and not shatter in the firing.kiln1

There’s really nothing mysterious about loading and firing a kiln. Most electric kilns like my Skutt have a kiln-sitter that uses a pyrometric cone made of clay. The cone is designed to melt at a specific temperature (in this case, about 1800F). When it melts, a three-prong device trips and turns the kiln off. That metal rectangular thingy has dropped down, indicating that the #05 cone on the inside has melted.

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The Kiln Gods were kind – nothing broke, amazingly enough. Here’s the first tray just out of the kiln, still very warm.

kiln3

Here’s the bottom layer, waiting to be unloaded. If you look on the right, you can see the slumped cone and the tripping device with the middle pin in the down position.

kiln4

So despite my Bad Practice of loading damp greenware, I got away with it – this time. These pieces are now ready for me to figure out how to use them – as Scent Shards? Sculpture pieces? Stay tuned 🙂

kiln5 kiln6

 

 

Discovery: The Blue Stuff

I am passing on to you a tip about something which, until this morning, I had never tried and is pretty amazing – it’s blue (and white) stuff. I ordered it from a place called Cool Tools, which specializes in supplies for metal clay artists. This is a mold-making compound – technically it’s called Mega-Mold Silicone RTV Molding Compound and it uses a process called RTV, which means room temperature vulcanizing. Vulcanizing is a chemical process that converts polymer into durable material. Who knew??

So, you squish the blue part with the white part and push it against something you want to make a mold of. I swear, five minutes later it’s ready to go! Jan Longfellow told me that she has used it to make molds for her silver clay jewelry. it’s pretty amazing – here are some photos – I don’t know quite where I’m going with it, but it is sooooo much fun to play with! You could make a mold of your big toe, or your car key or a favorite brooch – the possibilities are positively goofy!

The Kit - one blue, one white - squish together equal amounts

The Kit – one blue, one white – squish together equal amounts

 

The mold after five minutes, the original object, and the clay copy

The mold after five minutes, the original object, and the clay copy

The mold setting up on a sculpture's hand

The mold setting up on a sculpture’s hand

Taking off the mold

Taking off the mold

A molded wing off the same sculpture

A molded wing off the same sculpture

More molded clay objects - the mold makes the clay oily - weird

More molded clay objects – the mold makes the clay oily – weird