Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Makers Mark

Hi everyone,

For some time now, I have been trying to come up with some unique makers mark or cartouche to put on my work. I find that my signature can be a bit large, especially on silhouettes and other smaller pieces. I also feel like my work falls more philosophically in the fine-craft than the fine art category and I really like the decorative marks on fine furniture and ceramics.

I have studied craftsmen art and furniture for a few years now. I recently had the opportunity to visitn the JMW Gallery in Boston. I've seen the MFA and METs collection of Arts and crafts furniture and decorative arts, and JMW easily has a larger collection- and its all for sale. If you can afford it (I can't).

I've discussed it before (about a year ago on this blog), but I really love the aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts (Craftsman) movement, and I am also am blown away be the entire philosophy that surrounds the movement. Essentially, the A&C period focused on a guild-like work structure where masters taught apprentices. The earliest craftsman pieces were extremely medieval in appearance.

Overtime, the movement developed it's own sense of style and focused on the use of simple materials (wood, metal, glass, leather, paper, ceramics) and craftsman skill. The kicker was that their work was so incredibly, unbelievably difficult to make, and they deliberately made things harder than they need to be simply to show that the work of a fine craftsman was something to be seen, appreciated, and celebrated. You can see this in Craftsman architecture where beams and support structure are exposed and over-complicated, yet still maintaining a clean look. You can also see this in furniture were joints and pegging is both exposed and emphasized to show the skills of its creator.

At this time (1880-1930) the Industrial Revolution was really moving into high gear producing goods cheaply and quickly. The Craftsman movement was a deliberate reaction to this loss of appreciation for hand-made goods, and presents this idea with an emphasis on exposed skill.

The furniture and decorative arts of this period have clean lines, simple decorations, earth tones, and most importantly, done as difficultly as humanly possible.

I've struggled for some time with where exactly my work falls- is it fine art, fine craft, or folk art? I think it's not really any of them and all of them at the same time. How's that for a cop-out? Seriously though, I find that my work next to paintings will never be appreciated by the general public as an equally-respected medium/style. Also, next to a beautiful raku urn or Roycroft desk my work may seem like simple wall-art. Plus, I have deliberately avoided the traditional folk art styles of historic papercutters.

So, what to do? I'm treating my work as a Fine Craft you hang on your wall like a painting. All great Craftsman artist have makers marks, and I've been wanting to create one that I can use to easily identify my work. I love antiques roadshow, and makers marks are seriously one of the best parts of the show. "Well, this would normally be a simple well-made oak desk, but this "R" in an urn makers mark indicates it was made by the Roycroft Craftsmen and is worth $30,000".

I really wanted to show the craftsman influences and ideas behind my work and was leaning for a while for a picto-gram, but couldn't come up with a plant or animal that significantly meant something important to me. My name wasn't especially symmetrical, however after playing with it for a while and using traditional Craftsman fonts, I came up with my very first makers mark. Drum roll please:

I'm going to keep it approximately 1/2 inch in size on the piece. I usually sign next to the piece, and I really shouldn't do that in case in the future it has to be re-mounted, the signature will be separate from the papercutting. No good. As soon as I get a white archival pen I will start marking my pieces with this mark, and signing the back of the papercut with my full signature. It won't be visible unless unmounted, but I think people always like to know their art holds secrets.

Wow, that was incredibly long and rambling. I need more coffee!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

New Website Design

I do these too often, but I'm really happy with the new design. It's streamlined, less messy, same content, and lots of fun surprises.

I condensed all the pieces into two major categories (Architecture and Nature) with 15 thumbnails for each.

I also am going to be directing people to my etsy page much more since there's no reason to reinvent the wheel when I have a successful shop already.

Overall I condensed the site from about 15 pages to about four.

I also put in some measures to make sure people can still see the site even if the don't have flash. iphone and itouch do not currently support flash, so when they visit, they will be redirected to a flash-less homepage.

I also am in love with Java especially Lightbox, which does those fun effects when you click on a thumbnail.

Let me know if you find any glaring problems


Let me know what you think:

Here's a screen grab:

Monday, September 21, 2009


Okay, finally giving an update,

The Boston Ahts festival went great! There were so many people I went through the over 300 business cards I brought with in the first three hours of the show. Won't make that mistake again.

It sounds like I may be showing my work at a local boutique that has recently gained a lot of national exposure, lots more on that when the details get worked out.

Four pieces went home during the show. Wish it was more, but I was still happy with the results.

Not much more to say, so here are some photos of the show.

In part two of the two-fer, and the reason it has taken me so long to post these, is that Jen and I took our first days off in almost three weeks and went to the-middle-of-nowhere Maine. We were gone all this past weekend and had an absolute blast. Highly recomend it: no tv, no internet, no electricity except from 7-10pm, quiet, gorgeous, and full of moose. Increcibly affordable too! Here's the website of the resort: The Last Resort, Jackman, ME

And some photos because it was that beautiful!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rain rain, go away

Show was canceled today:(

Unfortunately I didn't check until after showering, getting dressed, and getting coffee started. Pouring like the dickens outside now.

Not sure what to do today...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

One day to go!... so I missed a day

Yeah, remember two days ago when I said I had six days worth of work to do and four days to do it. That was before I got seven custom requests in 48 hours. One was an express deal, so I had to set aside everything to work on it. Not complaining, if people want my work, I'll be there!

So I did get lots done yesterday, just flat-out ran out of time and energy to blog.

All morning I worked on a rush-order custom piece, which should be in Florida in a couple of hours (hope you and your husband love it Marisa!)

After that, I really had to mount all the 18x24s or they just wouldn't get done. Since they are the main pieces for the show, thought that was important! My very first attempts of framing on my own. Kudos to Steve for everything you taught me about framing, I think they came out great!

Made a run to Target to get a tablecloth for my the huge 6' table they are supplying me for the show. Still not sure what to do with it, or where to put it, but figured I should at least make it look good. I was completely shocked at how expensive table cloths were, so I ended up buying a flat sheet which happened to be on crazy sale due to college season. Saved me $15 so I was happy.

I also got a box of huge clear bags, which I will use to transport the pieces and wrap them up when people purchase a piece. Looks like it may rain Friday and a bit on Saturday, so I'm determined not to ruin all my work!

Also designed all my "bookmark" pieces for the 8x10 frames. Hate waiting until the last second to do these, but they don't take too long and sell like hotcakes so they're a must. Here they all are unmounted.

Still have to pack everything up and make sure I have everything I need. Also need to mount and frame all the little guys above and two other smaller pieces. My biggest worry about these shows isn't the art, but doing something stupid like forgetting to bring anything to hang the artwork on the wall with, or forgetting my business cards or some other small detail that completely derails the whole thing.

Okay, back to work. I'll try to post again this evening to make up for the lack of post yesterday.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The road to the Boston Ahts Festival: 4 days to go

Hi everyone,

In my quest to be fully prepared for the Boston Arts (Ahts) Festival I'm going to be posting what I'm working on each day. I have four days to go and about six days of work left to do, so this will be interesting.

Over the long weekend we found out where the tent will be, which happens to be right in the middle of everything. This is great, because I've noticed tents on the ends seem to get passed up as people first arrive or leave. Also got some orchids for the tent. We decided that when you decorate your tent, it looks like you were so prepared that you even had enough time to bring in flowers. Gives a very good effect, and really instills confidence in people viewing your work. Also got a couple people to come in my tent in South Portland just to see the flowers. Can't hurt!

Here's the view from my future tent spot:

I found out we're sharing a 9x20 tent, which has me a bit scared because I want to hang a wall on three sides and I'm not sure my tent-mate will appreciate a wall hanging between us. I had thought we'd each be getting a 10x10 tent and we wouldn't have to share any walls. Hope it works out because I'm bringing three walls worth of stuff to hang regardless!

Today, my goal is to get the custom pieces that were ordered over the weekend done so I can focus on the Boston pieces. That was quite a task! Two were extremely difficult pieces with tons of very fine cuts with very little support. The hardest part is going from finished cut to mounted piece. Today I had to take this:

And make it look like this:Took forever!

I just got my very first order of 15 frames, all the framing supplies, and glass. I hopefully will be offering my custom pieces with custom framing options:)

I also have to finish my series of Boston pieces I created just for the show. These six pieces are the highlights of the show. Only one is not quite finished, but that should happen today or tomorrow. Here they all are unmounted.

It looks like it might rain Friday but will be great the rest of the weekend. Hope it isn't too bad! Three days is going to be a looooong time to stay outside.

I'm a bit worried I'm putting too much hope into this show. Don't want to be disappointed. The Art in the Park show went so incredibly well, and this show is three times longer with five times more people, so I'm really crossing my fingers!

Okay, back to work!

Tomorrow: the 8x10s and some framed work.