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Uni4Artists at the Women’s Show, Oct 1-2, 2016

catawba-valley-womens-show-sept2013I, along with Anne Fredley-Nuccamendi, will be representing Uni4Artists at the Catawba Valley Women’s Show on Oct. 1-2. We’ll have artisan jewelry, prints, ornaments, handmade glass gifts and more.

The show is on Saturday, October 1 from 10am–6pm and Sunday, October 2nd from 12pm–6pm. This event is for all things women: shopping, health, cooking, family, travel, pets, recreation, and of course quality art and artisan gifts and more! Admission is $7. For more information: call (828)322-4924; email: joanbranham@hickoryfurniture.com; catawbavalleywomensshow.com.


Art Store Fronts Review

forever-a1007-jpgA few months ago I spent time evaluating where I am selling best, what I am selling best and working on narrowing my focus which has always been a struggle for me (and is for many artists.) I’ve focused on artisan gifts for the most part and have had success selling pet ornaments on Etsy and handmade glass gifts and jewelry on Amazon Handmade. I’ve had a growing awareness that selling online is my best area for sales and that I would be smart to sell on my own site instead of hosting my art creations on other sites.

With a new focus on selling original artwork and prints my goal was to find a source for a good website with shopping cart capability and to promote my original artwork and prints (which is in its infancy stage) and as that grows, ease out of artisan gifts.

I did extensive research regarding what venue to use and found artstorefronts.com. They offer several package options which include a website with gallery, shopping cart capability and crucial marketing mentoring including Search Engine Optimization. They also include options with their higher end packages for lead capture which is crucial for building a list of faithful subscribers and customers.

Setting up the website has been more challenging than other storefronts I have set up because of the strong focus on Search Engine Optimization. You need to follow the directions faithfully and with my dyslexia it has been challenging. I intended to put my artisan products on the site as well, but realize now that wouldn’t be in my best interest. Your site will do best if you have an narrow niche focus. If you don’t know what yours is yet, you’ll have a little more work to do.

Their directions have kicked my right-brained butt to narrow, narrow, narrow my focus  to a specific area. I need that as many artists do.

The company provides a phone orientation once you opt in and then you are given the tools via a guide and step-by-step process which takes you through what you need to create a site that will generate traffic and sales.

You can opt to handle you own print fullfilment by shipping out yourself or you can choose or be assigned to a printer who fulfills printing for you. I feel I should mention that I had to purchase a better camera to get higher resolution and pixels because I have some large works and despite every effort to take a photo that would resize to my larger canvas sizes, my camera just couldn’t handle it.

Also, the challenge that comes with using an assigned printer is getting a print that looks like the original you started with. I tested my shopping cart out and ordered a couple of prints. One is too orange and the other dark. I have some work to do to remedy the problem.

Areas where I think Art Store Fronts could improve would be to include providing a transcript of the orientation dialogue because everything was verbal and the trainer went at warp speed. I had nothing to go back and reference which would have eased my mind.

Adding a live chat woud be great. Tech support is strictly email with no phone support or no help on weekends. There is a forums which is great but not focused on tech support but support for other questions. If you are working through a challenge it can take several days to get it resolved because of the time delay with the email tech support, but the techs are very knowledgable, curteous and patient.

Also, though they provide pop up screens that show examples as you go through the guide and set up, some of them are quite small and not that clear. On occasion I feel that the directions could be a little more artist/layman oriented. As with any technical directions those who are in the know sometimes have difficulty breaking down what they are saying so that those not in that field can get it the first time through. I feel more challenged than most because of my dyslexia. The techs deserve bonus points for hanging in there with me.

Despite these noted potential areas of growth, I am pleased with Art Store Fronts and would recommend it to artists and photographers who want to gain traction in online sales.






Inspirational Quote of the week



Fused Glass Mountian Scene Ornaments

orn012rPeople have already started shopping for Christmas. Several have ordered these fused glass mountain scene ornaments. I only have a few of these left and because they are labor intensive, I don’t plan to make more although I may come up with a painted glass version.

They are made by cutting a circle from recycled float glass (window glass) using a glass cutter. Once the edges are smooth, I paint the sky using glass paint which if heat in an oven for permanency.

The mountains are made from fused glass from crushed recycled wine bottles. I lay the glass on glass paper on the shelf and shape it into mounds, then I fire it. Once it is fired I share the mounds to fit the shape of the round clear ornament base. Once I have a design I like, I glue the glass onto the clear backing.

You will find these in my Amazon Handmade shop. Like snowflakes, they each have their own unique look but they remain true to the design.

Large Mountain Scene Ornament

Regular Mountain Scene Ornament


Wine Bottle Candle Etched Shell Design

wb007winebottlecandlebeachA lady in Florida just ordered a recycled wine bottle candle like this one with an etched sea shell design.

I carry these in clear and olive. The bottles are cut on a tile saw and then smoothed on a grinder and hand smoothed with a wetting stone.

I then hand etch them using a stencil and etching cream.

Below is a photo of the olive verson of these.  You may notice that the tapered candle has a shorter wax candle than the wb008winebottlecandleshellambernon-tapered one. This is because the less tapered candles need a taller candle in order to get oxygen.

You will find these in my Amazon Handmade shop.

Clear Candle

Olive Green Candle


Fire Polishing Fused Glass

SR002ObI make a variety of glass gifts from recycled bottles and sometimes, despite my best efforts, a slumped bottle spoon rest or dish will come out of the mold with a slightly sharp edge along the side.

Then I have to grind the edge with my glass grinder or hand smooth it with a sharpening stone but that dulls the shine where I have ground off the roughness.

I’ve tried a variety of things to restore that lost gloss, including using Renaissance wax, varnish, and even clear nail polish, but nothing really works. After some research I found this article from www.glass-fusing-made-easy on fire polishing glass.

I tried it on a slumped large spoon rest by laying it flat on fiber paper on my kiln shelf and firing it to their specifications. The only thing their directions didn’t say was that if something is slumped in a mold you need to put it back in the mold or it may lose some of its shape. So the neck of my bottle drooped slightly though firing it did restore some of the shine to the ground edge.

The lesson learned is if you are fire polishing something shaped in a mold you need to place it back in the mold when fire polishing.

The above large spoon rest is availabe in my amazon handmade shop.


Inspirational Quote of the Week



Handmade Clay Butterfly Necklace

N082The butterfly bush in my backyard is aflutter with butterflies.

This month I finished up some clay butterfly necklaces. Made from hand rolled clay, then hand stamped with a butterfly image. They are kiln fired and hand glazed with pastel lavender, blue and green and outlined in black.

The pendant background is brown gloss. These hange from an adjustable faux leather black cord. So fun to make.

You’ll find it in my Amazon Handmade shop.


6 Essential Tips for Crafting Beginners

yarnToday I am happy to feature a guest blog article by Laura Baker.

6 Essential Tips for Crafting Beginners

So you want to try your hand at making homemade crafts, but you’re not sure where to begin. Maybe you have an eye for picking out unique items from antique shops and home decorating, but you’ve never tried to create something on your own. Or maybe you have already dabbled in a project or two, but you’ve decided it’s time to kick your casual hobby into high gear. These tips will help any beginning crafter learn the tricks of the trade.

Start Simple

Beginning crafters are often impressed by the elaborate works of others found on places like Pinterest, but trying to replicate difficult, complex projects when you’re just beginning can be a recipe for disaster. Instead, try your hand at simpler projects by following tutorials to find out where your skills and interests lie.

Acquire the Necessary Supplies and Materials

The supplies and materials you’ll need will depend on the types of crafts you want to create. There are tons of crafts, ranging from primitive home décor to knitting, sewing, refurbishing furniture, upcycling, and many others. Over time, you’ll gradually accumulate the tools of the trade, but you’ll want to stock up on basic essentials, such as a basic sewing kit, essential tools for wood refinishing, or tools for upcycling.

Find a Great Source for Materials

Every crafter needs to source materials, whether that means purchasing supplies in bulk on the Internet or scouring your local markets and antique shops for intriguing pieces that you can reinvent. Where you get your materials also depends on your crafting style: If you create home décor wreaths using fabric and other materials, you’ll probably source these materials online or at a local craft supply store. On the other hand, crafters and artisans who upcycle may find treasures at flea markets, yard sales, and even in their own attics. What is upcycling, you ask? It’s the process of taking an old item and reworking or repurposing it so that you improve on it. For example, you might take an old suitcase and turn it into a dog bed or take an old metal trash and turn it into a planter.

Consider Setting Up an Etsy Shop

Many crafters begin by crafting as a hobby. When you start to receive requests from friends and family to make things for them, it might occur to you that you could make money from your creations. One of the most popular ways for crafters to monetize their hobby is by setting up an Etsy shop.

Take Lessons and Follow Tutorials to Learn New Things

Spread your wings and commit to learning new techniques and processes regularly to expand your skill set. You can find many tutorials online for various types of craft work, take online courses, watch tutorial videos on YouTube, or even take a live workshop in your local area. Even reading articles with tips on how to find great materials for crafting and other specific projects can be a valuable learning opportunity for beginning crafters.

Seek Out Inspiration

Artisans and crafters tend to draw inspiration from unusual places, but even the most experienced crafters look to other artisans to get inspired by new ideas and discover new ways to look at the ordinary objects you see every day.

There are thousands of crafting websites and blogs online showcasing examples of innovative crafts and projects. If you want to refurbish furniture, look for projects on how-to posts on Pinterest. Or if your passion is making clothes check out online costume stores and fashion blogs for inspiration.  And when you get stuck, head over to one of the many crafting forums, like Craftster, to get some advice from fellow DIYers on how to get a project gone awry back on track. Find your favorite artists on Instagram and follow them for a consistent feed of inspiration. You never know what might inspire your next project idea.

The great thing about crafting is that every artisan has their own unique style and approach. There’s no real right or wrong way to go about your creative work, so set out on your journey and find out what inspires you to create breathtaking projects.

Laura Baker is a DIY-er extraordinaire. From small crafts to home renovations, she is an expert on keeping projects simple, inexpensive, and using minimal materials. She is enjoys writing about her crafting adventures for LearnFit.org.

PHOTO by Jedidja via Pixabay





Do It Yourself Devitrification Spray

SR002ObI’m always looking for ways to shave costs of running my own art business. Supplies can be expensive. Today I am sharing a recipe and a video I made which shows how to make your own devitrification spray for glass.

Devitrificaton is caused by the growth of crystaline structures within or on glass.  It gives the glass a dull finish.  Sometimes, even though I may coat the glass with devitrification spray, a slumped bottle spoon rest may come out with a dull finish.

One of the ways to control this is by firing the glass at the right temperature and for the right amount of time. Devit occurs above 1350 degrees F. You can reduce the likelihood of it happening by scheduling a fast temperature increase from 1000 F to 1480 F.  You can go as fast as 800 dph.  Suggested hold time should be between 1000 F – 1250F.

The other way to control devit is to use devit spray.  It’s still not guaranteed to prevent devit on all glass. Here’s my video that talks about how to make your own.

For your convenience, I have listed the ingredients you need below the video

Devitrification Spray (large quantity)

One cup Borax

One cup Dawn dish detergent

One gallon distilled water

Small Quantity

OneTsp Borax

One Tsp Dawn

One Cup distilled water



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