The jury is still out…

Yesterday, I spent the majority of the day on my computer. I have a ton of work to do in the studio but I need to start looking to the future and where to show my work and how to build a resume’ that reflects my skills that are not printing or printing related. I have several mentors in this new life that are giving me advice. Both are giving me excellent advice from their years of doing what I am now doing and while I really don’t feel that I am ready to apply to major venues or to major art related organizations but if I don’t try I won’t know, right?

Zapplication.org is one of the places where artists can find venues, fairs, if you will, that I can go and set up a tent and sell my work. I am looking for more local events and not wanting to spend a lot of time in my car. Time in the car is time away from producing and creating work. So I dove into the process yesterday morning and soon realized that my color correcting skills, again, will come in handy for preparing images for review and juries. After getting to know Zapplication for a few hours and uploading some images, I now know how to get venue information to schedule fairs for the coming months and years.

Items need to be photographed and done simply and look professional. I do this for my Etsy shop. Lots of time is spent to get my work onto the web and keep me out of my car, hopefully allowing me to not have to travel and have my work travel through the internet. I photograph my own work and then I use my color correcting skills to put the professional touch on the images so that they best represent the art. The gray balance is key. Using a backdrop that is a vanishing white to black provides my grayscale to allow me to check this gray balance and correct for that. Theoretically, if you have a good gray, the other colors should fall in line and because I am working with RGB not CMYK , I have a much larger color space to deal with and don’t have to worry that my colors won’t match the original art.

Taking the advice of my mentors, I chose to apply to the Artisan Center of Virginia first, to be juried, in hopes to be included in their list of juried artists. I learned about the Artisan Center of Virginia when I went to a meeting that our county tourism put together to include local artisans, agri-artisans, B & B’s and restaurants to put together an Artisan Trail in our county to feature local talents and unique businesses. I was really impressed with the talk that the director of the Artisan Center gave and wanted to be a part of this wonderful benefit for artists. Hopefully, even without juried status, I will be included in the trail and be able to get traffic here at my house from tourists to our county. I will get a sign to put on the house with this logo stating that my house is an Artisan Trail Site. That would be cool! And again, no traveling, they come to me.

I spent most of the morning, gathering images and checking the color and the resolution to meet the requirements. Each site seems to need a different pixel width. Then I needed to put the packet together to include, in addition to images, a resume’, an artist statement, a business card and of course the application fee.

My statement surprised me, being easier to write than I thought. The AC of V has a  document that helped me get started and that is usually the hard part. I then just talked about what I do in the process and what has inspired me to find the “voice” that I have in my work right now.

Artist Statement

My work deals with frogs and fossils, birds and nature. I am intrigued by layering and stacking of images and colors on my pottery. I love to experiment with a “story” being told in my work. A story that you see and imagine while you are examining my pieces. 

Using clip art, that I get royalty free from the web in the form of a photoshop brush, I combine these images in a theme, print them out on paper, cut them out with nail scissors and apply them to my wet clay pieces. When the final layering process is complete, I may have several layers of paper embedded into the clay under layers of colored slips (which are colored clay). The paper is removed to reveal the colors underneath and the shape of the images that I chose to put on the piece, telling the story.

After being in the printing world where graphic arts were a big part of my job for over 25 years, I was laid off July of 2011. In college I had been a ceramic apprentice for a couple of years and had always regretted not continuing with that life. My husband bought me a potter’s wheel for Christmas of 2010 and I saw my skill levels come back and help me to realize my dream of being a potter. Being laid off couldn’t have come at a better time.

Being a newbie, I hope that in the next year or so to expand my line of products to include more complicated shapes. I have seen my skills really improve in the past 6 months so with every kiln that I unload I see many improvements and can only hope that that will continue in the coming years.

I packed up the items, took it to the post office and sent it off. The deadline is June  1st. Now we just wait and see…I think being a newbie that I don’t have a chance but I need to jump into the mix and see what they say. I could get some great feedback for the future if I don’t. In the meantime, I have lots to catch up on today waiting for me in the basement. And eventually, adding more images to the Zapplication.org site to find additional venues in my local area to sell work.

Do you believe in fairies?

LOS Booth at Blandy Farm

 

On Mother’s Day I did my first official venue as a potter. For those of you who are not familiar with this event, it is held at the State Arboretum, Blandy Farm, in Boyce, VA and is a wonderful way to welcome Spring if you are a gardener. There are all kinds of native plants and annuals and perennials. In addition to planting material there are garden objects (birdhouses made out of beer cans, sculptures, windchimes and chairs), handmade soaps and lotions, and garden tools. I was too busy to get out of my booth to take some shots of the vendors that were there but some of the companies that I could see within my site, I think, gave a good representation of what was there. Companies like, Peony’s Envy, The Bumblebee Studio, Horizons Ltd., EZ Hang Chairs and lots of garden nurseries. I could also see the llamas from Sunset Acres where I was located. In all, there were over 100 vendors.

The biggest draw for my booth was the broken planter fairy garden. It was located at the corner of my tent and we used it to anchor that corner due to it’s heaviness and allow it to stabilize the tent from wind gusts. We were amazed at the way this garden was like a magnet that drew people into the tent. They would ask to take photos of it, they would bring people back to look at it, they would smile and compliment it. At that time, I would invite them into the tent so that they could get all the accessories to go home and make one of their own. Almost instant sale!

Fairy Garden in a Broken Planter

Fairy Garden in a Broken Planter

I had no idea how popular this trend had become until I was picked up by the blog, Backyard Herbal Patch Herbal Blog, who gave me as a source for fairy garden accessories and showed this photo of the planter. I got a Facebook message from a lady from The Succulent Perch telling me that the photo had gone viral and had been shared over 1700 times. This was before the garden fair at Blandy, so I used this in my sales pitch. When folks wanted to take a photo, I would tell them about the number of shares on the web and that they could find the image if they didn’t get a good photo.

Fairy Gardens are trending and I am riding the wave for now. I was told by one lady that they have always been popular in New England. I found this article that says,

Houses are made so that fairies will have a place to be, to visit or even live if they wish.   With fairies in mind, they are created by children and adults alike in hopes that their creation will be enjoyed by the elusive and mysterious beings.   Whether part of a village or a sole dwelling, they are often nestled amongst trees and gardens.

One day, I hope to catch sight of a fairy out of the corner of my eye while I am visiting one of the villages or enjoying a festival.   Perhaps you will, too.

In the meantime, I am enjoying making the items for fairy gardens and am sprinkling lots of fairy dust around in hopes that I can make the fairies more comfortable while putting a smile on the faces of folks that visit my booth. I certainly believe now…