Playing Dress-Up With PODs

Well this certainly is fun! I took a 3 Inch by 6 inch piece of metal (seen at right) and painted it with alcohol ink and gave it several coats of Rustoleum Varathane, Then did the back of the metal with a design in a simpler but co-orrdinating color design. After that I took pictures, and now I can use the pictures to create POD (Print On Demand) products. Right now you can buy through their website, but I am in the process of putting my  own store together with Shopify.

The original art is seen at right. Below in the gallery are the pieces and the POD items

These particular items, a scarf, yoga leggings, a draped kimono, tote bag and zipper carry call are all from Art For Where in Montreal Canada.

They mill their own fabric, print it, cut and sew and drop ship the orders. Then I cut up the metal, ground down the edges, and got the pieces ready to make into jewelry!

 

 

 

PODs and Pixels

I have been researching different POD companies this year. Pixels is one of many I’ve tried, and it is one of three that I’ve chosen to keep up. I like many things about Pixels, including the ability to edit all items with a single design on that at once, the ability to put an interface through an ipage right onto my website storefront, the ability to create printable catalog pages…I’m still exploring all the options. The shop that you put together on their site is very attractive, easy to work with, and so is the product design setup. The are the company that does all the printing for Fine Art America, used by many galleries and artists.

One of the few things not in its favor is that It does not play with woocommerce, a popular marketing platform used with websites, particularly wordpress based websites. It interfaces beautifully with Shopify using one of the free apps available with an account–but Shopify comes with a monthly price tag over $25, and that is money I’d rather spend on art supplies. WordPress, Woocommerce and Pixels are free to use. Pixels has a store aspect for me right on their site, and I can import it to my store front. Pixels supplies code for widgets that can be placed to have small or large slideshows of designs available. Shoppers are taken to the Pixels site and can purchase and checkout there. They do not check out using my woocommerce interface, so there could be times that items are found through both platforms, and they would need to be purchased in separate transactions. That’s not so hard!

Here’s a link to the breakdown on ecommerce platforms from the Printful site.

I never could start small with a project, so I put together 24 ink on metal designs and applied them to the products here. Pixels offers Mugs, Weekender Totes, Pouches, Portable Battery Chargers, Fleece Blankets, Spiral Notebooks, Yoga Mats, Round Beach Towels, T-Shirts, Phone Cases, Tote Bags, Shower Curtains, Duvet Covers, Throw Pillows, Greeting Cards, and Prints. With each design on each product, that is already a lot of options. In the spirit of investigation, I am also using two other POD companies called Art To Where and Printful  and these both integrate with woocommerce. For them, I have built a storefront page right here. They feature and additional 16 kinds of clothing and accessories with the printed artwork.  I’m still working on applying the designs to the items, but it is coming right along!!

Read more about the POD companies I am researching and ways that I am selling  here.

I like them all quite a bit, and have several more collections of digitized photos, drawings, and shibori fabrics. Then I look forward to playing with the designs in Adobe Illustrator and coming up with even more.

 

Major Metal!

We’ve been spending the past few months digging in with creative endeavors here in our new place. We’re producing new art, music, writing, and also preparing for winter. (We’ve already had snow three times!) I’ve been putting major efforts into metal work that has been languishing unfinished or unsorted for a while. I had a pile of etched metal and metal with beautiful patinas as well as decorative ways with inks. Now I have quite a few trays filled with earring parts, pendants, cuff bracelets, and sets. I’m selling components to other jewelry designers and having fun seeing what they do with them.

I’m reaping a bonanza harvest of brass, bronze, nickle silver, copper, tin and aluminum components for making earrings, pendants and charms. I’m selling on Facebook groups and also wholesale to stores. Plus, when the winter days keep me indoors, I’ll have plenty to choose from when making jewelry.

 

 

New Ways in the West

I love the vivid colors and fun effects that are obtainable with alcohol inks on metal. For my first art experiments in my new home state of Wyoming, I got all my inks and my embossing powders out for several days of summertime fun! I’ve wanted to see how the inks and powders held up to cutting and filing for some time, but life in Colorado and then moving kept nudging project days to the side. But here in my new studio spaces (I have several now–indoor, outdoor, and a shed, all  with power and lights!!) I’m finding it much easier to get some art time.

My experiments started with cutting up some 30 gauge aluminum and getting it cleaned up and ready for the inks. After having lots of fun with color, all the pieces were carefully heated to help further set the inks permanently, and then sprayed with two coats of polyurethane.

After that, I cut up the pieces, making  2″x4″ rectangle pieces for my embossing experiments, and 4″x4″ squares, and a larger piece that will get played with later and cut up to make decorative parts for boxes, mobiles, and jewelry. Some for now, some for another time! I want to do some that incorporate other elements too, like metal leaf.

In the course of our recent move, I got to see all my art supplies, and now they are out where I can see them all the time, motivating me to actually use them. While accumulating tools and supplies is a lot of fun itself, I’ve pared down to the ones I want to use, and it is very satisfying to use them. I love seeing how the different things go together.

Once I have the prepared metal pieces, I like to cut them up further and make things like jewelry components or inserts for decorative boxes. For jewelry use, I use a large metal shear to cut straight across, disc cutters to make circles, and metal shears to cut more complex shapes. In order to easily duplicate shapes, I made myself some laser cut templates of shapes that I like. I used a Open Source program called Inkscape to create my shapes and then used them with the laser cutter at Tinkermill, the makerspace in Longmont Colorado. Makerspaces are great hubs of creativity, and I hope to see more of them established.

Here are the templates I cut, with all sorts of shapes, flowers, leaves, and more. I use them in metal, paper and textile work a lot. The set on the right is particularly useful for making earring pairs and pendants or pins. Now I have a lot of different pieces and can try a variety of different things. I love the freedom to experiment and play with colors and textures. Sometimes I go too far, but I always learn things that inform more pleasing work later.

I cut out shapes and then smooth the edges with a habilis 00 file, some sanding, and then I can pierce holes with the Euro Tool punch, glue pieces to leather or other backings, or embed the pieces in polymer clay to be cured. (Pieces with embossing powder cannot be heat cured–embossing must be done after the baking step.)

The next step for me is to make some finished jewelry, and I’ll be doing that this week; from where I am sitting now I can see just the right beads to make these all up. Check back soon to see how they look when finished, and please do view the results of my ink and embossing experiments as well as other work.

Transformed!

The process of transformation can be fascinating–I love starting with a flat, shiny sheet of copper, brass, bronze or nickle silver and then using electricity, fire, hammers, rollers, and chemicals to change it completely. Each step along the way–patterns, textures, shapes and colors is part of a trail of discoveries. After etching, hammering, cutting, creating a patina, waxing or spraying,  grinding, filing and sanding–I have developed a relationship with the metal!

Some pieces I make into earrings, pendants, and bracelets. Cuffs are great because they offer a larger “canvas” to show off the gorgeous colors that are possible with patinas. The processes involved are a mixture of precision and serendipity, and seeing what occurs is a gift that I get to unwrap each time. Sometimes surprising, always fun to explore; each piece is individual.

In addition to metal, wood, ceramics, polymer clay and textiles, I’m changing things around here at Creative Connections as well. I’ve been building up inventory all winter long, and now that the snows have melted and Spring is here, its time to get things out to market.

I am now selling finished jewelry and components for designers who want to use them in their own art. The Store section here at Creative Connections is just getting started, and will continue to grow, so do please check back again soon to see what is new!

Spring!

I think everyone would benefit from a having at least one crown. Pageants take up too much time for only one or two crowns, and not everyone is born into families that have a few to pass around. So, making your own is the way to go! I’m hosting a class at Tinkermill to do just that.

It has been such a busy season making things and taking pictures that I have not had much time for posting them here! I’ve been exploring the business side of social media and Facebook, and there is a Creative Connections Facebook page in a beginning state. I’ve found some great groups there with a growing array of artisans displaying their wares to a world wide audience. It’s hard not to spend too much time looking, and so I’ve been at the metals workbench, the dye pots and the laser cutter. I believe there are lots of colorful new things coming up this Spring! A little flower fae told me so. I like how she looks, just playing with the bits and pieces I have around on the workbench well enough to think it would be fun to host an after noon of making these little cuties too. I’ll have to add that to the calendar for later in April!

I’m marketing jewelry, components and digital downloads through several online outlets, galleries and bead stores. I’m also enjoying the luxury of big tables, lights, and cool tools at Tinkermill in Longmont. I’m teaching a wide roster of classes there each month, and I’m about to add some new ones.

Right now I’m enjoying an infusion of color and flowers for Spring. I Iove being able to bring all sorts of different elements together, like making a spring princess crown of copper coils, carnelians, and hand dyed ribbons, which would be at home  in celebrations long ago and far away—and then decorating it with flowers made from handpainted watercolor paper cut with a laser beam! Such an artistic luxury to be able to combine drawing and hand coloring with laser precision. Computers and other great tools are a LOT of fun..particularly if you get to add paint, and dyes, and beads…so many projects comic right up!

 

A Beautiful Challenge

There were are many challenges to be met in 2016, and the results of some remain to be seen. The challenge that my beady friends and I undertook turned out really wonderfully. Our group has been beading together for a while, and we share our discoveries of new stitches, new suppliers, and the occasional project.

The parameters of this one when it started last year were that we use the two pieces of fabric and the packet of beads we were given. Anything else could be added..and it needed to end up as a piece of wearable art.

Last week we got together and three of us showed what we had made. We’ve still got several members’ work to be unveiled, and I am looking forward to seeing what they did!

 

New Work in a New Year

It sure is snowy outside, but I’m growing a fresh crop of flowers (metal), several new classes to put on the calendar, and a brand new membership at Tinkermill in Longmont. Also an educational nonprofit, Tinkermill.org is a creative maker space, filled with all sorts of interesting people with skills–and tools–and space to use them. My family joined, and are eagerly awaiting orientation so as to get to work on projects that are too big for the kitchen table, or require tools I’ve not yet acquired!

Something that really iced the cake for me is the classroom space that is available there. I will be offering classes in the upcoming months both in Gahanna, Ohio and in Longmont, Colorado in the upcoming weeks, so sign up for the newsletter if you’d like to be notified when they are on the schedule. Media will include digital, metal, polymer clay, and textiles.

Abounding Beads

The Longmont Bead Group meets on Thursdays…and sometimes on weekends…because we all love beads. Its also more fun to work on time-consuming projects with friends so that the hours fly by and the beads get strung, woven, embroidered, braided, knit and crochet, and more. One member gave another a cloth owl that was totally bare of embellishment, and what was to be a few hours of beading stretched WAY beyond–but looks fabulous.

We help each other learn new techniques and share our sources, sometimes buying in bulk together (sometimes just buying in bulk, period, because one just NEEDS that many!) I recently was guided through the intricacies of spiral and straight herringbone stitch, have learned right angle weave and peyote stitch, and how to knit and crochet with beads. Connecting with friends and learning new things is great for the mind, body and spirit; and it is easy to become isolated if you don’t make that effort. Hang out and be creative with a friend soon!

 

Summer Renewal

Creative Connections-signup.qr.2The long sunny days and warm weather makes it easy to get a lot of things to grow. Creative Connections is having a BIG growth-spurt–this year, we have blossomed into a Non Profit Corporation!

Having filed the paperwork in Colorado to become a 501(c)(3) educational non  profit corporation and trade marked the name, there is now much more to be done, and I’m gathering the people to help me do it. There are still more forms to be filed, meetings to be held, and money to raise, but now we can work together to make arts more accessible for everyone and develop funded programs. We’re currently seeking a low cost or grant-subsidized location for classes and a gallery gift shop where artists can sell their work.

I’ve given this website a total makeover, and it has gone from representing my own personal art to showcasing a much bigger collective effort. It’s just getting started, and has lots of room to grow.

Sign up for our newsletter and hear the latest on classes, events, and how it is all coming together! Scan the QR code shown here if you want to be fancy, or join through the sidebar signup form.