Friday, 28 October 2011

How cats help us!

I'm sure anyone who's ever owned (or been owned by) a cat will recognise the sight that follows. It seems that no matter what I try to do, Oscar always wants to "help". It both infuriates and amuses me at the same time. Usually, I am fighting to keep his paws, whiskers and tail away from glue, paint, scissors, knives or water pots full of dirty water whenever I am creating. The minute I sit down at a table, in front of my PC, or on my stool in the studio, I know it's only a matter of time before I am joined by my feline friend and constant companion!

It should therefore have come as no surprise when I was working my way steadily through the entry forms for the Hornsea Speech & Drama Festival to see him flirt his way from his tower, onto the dining table and on top of the pile of forms I was trying to fill in. At first he just sat on them and looked down at the pen and papers. Soon, he'd settled into lazy cat mode, front feet tucked neatly under him and eyes suitably drowsy enough for me to feel guilty if I so much as contemplated removing him. Luckily, he is a very placid cat and I was able to simply lift him from the table to his hammock on the radiator without a murmur. I did, however, sneak a couple of photos in first - just to show what he's like!

I think cats are ace. I know a lot of people really have a strong dislike for them, which I will never understand - some people are simply dog lovers and refuse to warm to cats, but I like dogs as much as I like cats - I just seem to understand cats more!

By the way, as I type this, I am perched on the very edge of my oh-so-comfy swivel chair in the study because, yes, you've guessed it - Oscar is snoozing on most of the seat behind me!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

More wooden trinket boxes

I've been checking my stock and trying to get more items ready in preparation for the coming weeks of craft fairs, so here are a couple more new items for you to have a sneaky preview of before I upload them to Etsy or sell them locally!

Two interesting shapes this time, a heart and a star. The star was definitely the most intricate to decorate, and I am pleased with the end result. The heart has my finger-prints in paint all around the edges, so I've really put a bit of myself into it this time! I decided not to try and line the star-shaped box, as I think it would've been beyond my capabilities! Furthermore, If I had lined it, the amount of space available for storing things inside would have been reduced, so I took the sensible option (well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!).

"Twinkle, Twinkle" - the lid.

"Twinkle, Twinkle" - the lid lifts off and has magnetic catches.

"Midnight Love" as viewed from above

"Midnight Love" showing the funky foam lining.
As you can see, I have given both the boxes a funky foam protective bottom, so they will not scratch any surfaces. They are both approximately 2 to 3 inches high, and 5 inches across the widest point.  I will be uploading them to my Etsy shop soon, and if not sold by 5th November, they will be coming with me to the first craft show of this season.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Latest Craft Creation

I've just uploaded some photographs of my latest matching wooden trinket box and mini canvas painting. They are sold separately, but I'm always willing to give a discount if anyone would like to buy the set. Please contact me for prices. More to be created soon!
Both the easel and the mini canvas are painted with acrylic paints. The trinket box has been painted on the outside and inside with acrylic paints, and I've created a funky foam base and lining for the trinket box in complementary colours. I've named these PC Plum, and will be uploading more shots of them to my FB page and my Etsy Shop too. If these don't sell before-hand, I will be taking them along to the Christmas Craft Fair in Bilton on 5th November so you can check them out there if you are in the area!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

My studio - before and after!

I spent some time recently having a good tidy up, sort out, throw out etc of my studio. I say studio, when it is really a small conservatory-cum-cat room, that I just took over!

I had taken a few photos of the mess it had got into which I'd forgotten about, so I can show you a sort of before and after style selection. There's something quite satisfying about re-organising your work space, especially when you have brand spanking new units in which to store things! The excitement was full on once we'd assembled the new units - I even enjoyed throwing things away to make more room.

I'm ashamed to say that this is the state my worktop was in before I began my big clean up - somehow I just kept on working amongst all the items I'd used and the longer I carried on like that, the harder it was to stop myself from doing so! Here it is before:

See how small my actual work area had become?

Above my worktop area and to the left are some bookshelves, which were again beginning to look cluttered:

The difference between the above images and the same areas now is vast, as you can see:

I have kept the plastic drawer units under the worktop, just re-organised the contents.

I have since re-located these units and the contents are safely stored in my shiny new units!

I made use of large cardboard boxes and kept everything on the floor previously...

The shelf you see in the photo above has now been relocated to the far end of the conservatory, and only my CD player and CDs are on it now. All "dust gathering" items are hidden away from view.

IKEA, I love you!
I was particularly pleased with my two new purchases from IKEA - the large, square cupboard unit and the A2 sized drawer unit (which is on castors, even better!). You can get an idea of how much they both hold by looking at the stuff I've stored away:

There are two shelves in each quarter of the big white unit, with the option of adding more if necessary. I found the drawer unit useful for my stock of wallpaper, brown paper and shiny blue textured paper on a roll! I am a huge stationery geek and just love anything to do with paper, card, pens, folders, notepads etc! I recently got given a pile of blank notebooks that were going to be thrown away and I actually got quite emotional when I saw them! I think it's the prospect of filling them up that I've always liked so much.

I've also started to label just about every container and drawer (thought not the new ones) I've got so that I can instantly tell what I've got stored away. I've accumulated so many card-making bits and pieces that my original grey A4 sized drawer unit is still in use with those items alone - I have only hand-written the labels at the moment, but I will be making smart new ones on the PC soon!

The smaller plastic drawer unit is home to all the paints I need for creating my hard-backed notebooks. Very handy. I was actually quite miffed when I recently bought the 3 new paints you can see to the side of that unit and discovered when they arrived that they would not fit in the drawers!

The window-shelf above my worktop. Note the labels everywhere!
View of my easel from my worktop.
Even more room to store things temporarily on top of the new unit!
My companion when I'm working - well, one of them!
You would usually find one or more cat here!
The Sunflowers tapestry I started for Keith a long time ago. I really must finish it!
I am currently working on a trinket box and mini painting combination set - "A Bit Of Purple", similar style to my "Geometric Green" series of the same. I will post some pics when I've finished it. You'll have noticed there are a few paintings that need finishing in my work area - I've deliberately left them on display so to speak in order to spur me on to finishing them! The painting on the easel is one that I will be painting over soon. It was painted for the last production at the Bilton Theatre.

Feel free to comment, or ask me any questions about my new-look studio! 

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Christmas Commission, anyone?

I've just been sorting through my photo files on the PC, in an attempt to unearth some images that I was going to use for another blog post - and I discovered a couple of images that I took of a commission last year for a Christmas present. I'd taken a hurried photograph before it was delivered then completely forgot about it!

However, if you are thinking of buying a unique gift as a stocking filler or as a gift for your child's teacher, perhaps, then I'm sure one of these magnetic notepads for the fridge wouldn't go amiss. This particular one was created on the basis of someone wanting a floral design to give to a friend. I called it "Anniversary Flowers" because it is very similar to my large canvas painting of the same name.  Painted in acrylic with two coats of satin varnish, I only hope the recipient was happy as I never did ask!

I will be selling these and other smaller items at the forthcoming craft fairs I plan to take part in during the run-up to Christmas in the East Yorkshire area. If you would like to see before you buy, please follow me on facebook (Arty Aitch) or check out my website for details of these within the next few weeks.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Craft Fairs - easier than exhibitions?

I am currently planning on taking part in a craft fair nearly every weekend from 5th November to 4th December, apart from one, when I will be at the Hornsea Speech & Drama Festival with all the members of the Junior and Youth section at B.A.D.S.

I have just completed the application form for the 2nd Artlink Contemporary Art & Craft Fayre of this year - the first one was in May, and it set me off thinking about how successful craft fairs are for an artist, compared to art exhibitions. I have taken part in both during my time as a self employed artist, and without exception the craft fairs have been more successful for me. I am not just talking about sales, either - although undoubtedly that is a consideration. It appears to me that the people who attend exhibitions are simply not looking for a piece of art to purchase, or to engage in conversation with me as an artist. However, I have discovered that usually this is not the case with people who attend craft fairs. I have also found craft fairs to be a much more enjoyable event in terms of setting up (easier to set up a table than it is to position a wall of paintings, for example) and attracting people to look at my work. It may be just that it is much easier to look at a host of items on a table, without feeling obliged to buy anything, than it is to stand and look at something fixed to a wall.

Whatever the reason is, I'm glad I've taken part in so many craft fairs in the past year - it's not something I would have thought of doing at first, yet they are so popular too nowadays. At the last Artlink one I took part in, I was in a good position in the corner of the room looking towards the entrance, and I managed to tot up how many people came through the door over the course of the 4 hours (it was on from 12 to 4pm) and recorded them in my little notebook, just out of interest. A few people walked in, took a quick stroll around the room and walked out again without exchanging a word with anyone, but most people did at least talk to one or other of the artisans, which makes it so much nicer for us.

Here are some pics of my table as it was laid out for the Artlink Contemporary Art & Craft Fayre in May this year - I think I'd sold one or two items at this point, so there may be a gap here and there.

In total, there were 126 people through the door, with 36 of them arriving between 12 and 1pm. A further 33 arrived between 1 and 2pm, but the busiest time was between 2 and 3pm, when 48 people came through the doors. Only 9 people showed up during the final hour of 3-4pm.

During those 4 hours, I sold these items:

"Carousel" decorated trinket box - sold to a young girl of about 9 or 10.

"Jonas" painted notebook.
"Optimum" mini canvas with easel.
I also sold a fabric covered address book (you can just about make it out in the 3rd image - at the edge of the table), and a few greetings cards. I had a couple of interesting conversations with people - one of whom was asking if I would be interested in taking a workshop for young people based on the theme of mosaics. I said I'd never done that before but would be willing to give it a go if she gave me some more details - she said my work reminded her of mosaic patterns, and that's what she was after I think. I haven't heard from her since, despite the fact that she took a brochure and one of my business cards, so she probably had more success elsewhere with an artist who had more experience in giving workshops. Thinking about it, that wouldn't be difficult, since my experience is nil!

Even when people don't buy anything from me at craft fairs, I find it easier to chat to potential customers because they like to touch my work and are more likely to ask questions about it then. The time passes so quickly, too, as there is often a steady stream of people coming through.

The next one I will be taking part in is in Bilton and I am currently in the process of planning for that - to be held in the Church Hall on the 5th November and in aid of the Forgetmenot trust. I hope to have all my labels printed out within the next day or so, which will be stuck onto the sides of the paper bags I use for customers to take away their purchases in.

I wonder if any other artists find craft fairs "easier" to take part in than exhibitions?