Business 101 – Annette Piper

20 12 2008

I am lucky to be in a situation where I sell my creations – this validates my reason for making substantial amounts of jewellery and enables me to continue to purchase vast quantities of gemstones!  


But a lot of people don’t sell what they make – sometimes this is because they choose not to, sometimes it is because they don’t know how.


Here are some of my pointers to selling your wares should you want to sell but not know where to start.


* Ensure you practice until your wares are as good as they can possibly be. Don’t even attempt to sell goods of questionable quality and workmanship as this may harm your reputation down the track.


* Create a ‘look’ that fits your style.   This look will be utilized in such things as business cards, packaging and advertising.   Think about your target market and what they react favourably to in advertising.   Research first to avoid costly mistakes – you don’t want to pay for business cards and then change your mind a month down the track and find they no longer suit you! 


* Price your items fairly. A good guide is to charge what YOU would be prepared to pay as a member of the general public.   Once again, do your research – you don’t want to be either too high or too low compared to your competitors in the marketplace.  Make sure you add all your costs together when pricing an item –  don’t guess in the early stages.  You will often be surprised how quickly small amounts add up.


* Seek out local shows and events in your area and see which attracts your target market.  Attend these shows as a visitor first if you can to gauge the clientele and the other booths/stalls.   If you think it is a good fit, then start to apply for them (some shows have extensive waiting lists).   A lot of quality shows will be juried, so be prepared with examples of your work.


* When you make it to a show, think about your set up.  Do a trial run at home of your display to make sure it works and looks attractive.  You may not have time to tweak your display at a show!    Make a list of things you will need and tick these off when packing.   Make sure you turn up to the show in good time to set up before the doors open.   Greet everyone with a smile.   Don’t pack up until the doors have shut or the last customer has departed – open booths will benefit from last minute sales.  Sit down a couple of days after the show and think about what went well and what could have been done better and make notes to refer to next time.


* Think about alternate ways of selling your wares – eg. home shows, trunk shows in local businesses, through art and craft outlets, on consignment, online through sites such as etsy or your own website.


* Network with other business owners, artisans and artists.


* Enjoy what you are doing!   If you lose your passion it may be time for a rethink.


Amethyst and sterling silver ring by Annette Piper

Amethyst and sterling silver ring by Annette Piper



To read more from Annette, visit her blog at and view her jewellery at


Art or Craft? – Annette Piper

19 10 2008

It’s a frequently asked question … “Is what I do art or is craft?”      


While what I do is attractive and takes skill and a lot of it is one of a kind, it isn’t rocket science either and given passion and practice someone else could probably do similar work.  


Therefore I am more likely to refer to myself as a designer and sometimes an artisan, rather than an artist.


I DO have some pieces in an art gallery and when I queried the appropriateness of my pieces in a gallery (yes, I know, keep quiet Annette!) the owner of the gallery told me that he could see my art in the way I put things together and even in my colour combinations.


On the other hand, I don’t believe my work is craft either – although I wouldn’t be upset to be referred to as a craftsman (woman!) as, to me,  that denotes a dedication to your ‘craft’ and a refinement of techniques.  


The perception of craft by the wider population tends to be someone who dabbles in making something that is not that difficult, although I am sure some ‘crafts’ are far, far harder than we imagine!


What IS important is that we follow our passions and that need to create – whether we call it art … or craft.


Amethyst and silver cocktail ring

Amethyst and silver cocktail ring


To read more about my creations and get to know me better, pop into my blog at  and see my jewellery at


The Creation Process – Maria Iliadou

21 05 2008

I am presenting myself to you here as a doll maker. I am an artist that deals with many forms of Art by being (usually) good at it. But I am here to share with you my experience (not a long one I might have to admit) as a doll maker.
The process of creating a doll needs time and patience. The dolls I am dealing with are rag dolls. They are one of a kind (like many other handmade items) and rare in the market business.

pandora - one of my sold creations

Usually artists that make hand-sewn dolls start with a pattern. I don’t use any patterns. I draw the doll’s body each time on a piece of white fabric (the size is random but they come out from 17cm to 20cm, but they can be made also much bigger when it comes to custom orders) then I cut off a big piece of it (with spaces around the doll’s body) and I start sewing it with my hand (I don’t use a sewing machine). I sew it twice and then I start filling it with cotton. The body parts of the doll don’t come out always the same, because sometimes the fabric might rip off from the sewing or while I fill it (you have to follow a certain technique so that you can make the doll’s body parts same in size and length and it needs patience so that you wont rip off anything while you fill it). I usually rip it off with the small pair of scissors I use while I push the cotton in, basically because I get angry quite easily. I am hot blooded after all and that’s not a benefit when it comes to doll making! Usually this is the longest procedure until you fill the doll’s body with cotton. Also the head might not come out round cause after sewing it, it might take different kinds of shapes if you don’t pay attention to that while you make it! But this can be useful if you make the spooky dolls I make! At that point, the doll’s body doesn’t need to be perfect!

After that I am “sewing” the doll’s hair. I am using different kinds of yarn. The mohair is my favorite because its really soft and looks like real human hair! Most doll makers that make fabric dolls tend to use sock yarn and the regular kind of yarn, which makes the doll’s hair look like she has dreadlocks! This doesn’t look good if you want to leave her hair down! On the other hand if you want to make her a ponytail or different haircuts but with her hair up, then this kind of yarn can be useful. So, let’s get to the process again. As I’ve said before I use different kinds of yarn, a different for curly hair, a different for long and rich one etc! I sew it with a needle that is used also for knitting. That may take some time but that’s the fun part. I like putting their hair up or just making different kinds of “haircuts”. I love putting for my dolls’ hair different kinds of yarns with different colors!

mohair yarns

Then I fix the face. I either draw her eyes and lips, with a thin paint brush and fabric paint or I put glue and stuck beads for eyes and draw her lips or make up (if I chose her to have one). When you draw her characteristics you have to be careful because If you make any mistakes and you ruin her face you need to make the doll all over again or sew a piece of white fabric on her face to cover the mistakes you did. One time that I really ruined a doll’s characteristics I just paint it with white fabric paint that actually didn’t really match the doll’s skin color so the doll ended up looking like a vampire in the end! Fortunately it was a custom made order and she was meant to look gothic so by accident I made her look even better! Another thing, I might even give her the traditional look and sew her mouth like some of the old rag dolls mouth would look.

Even if I can’t find the appropriate beads or buttons I want for my doll’s eyes I might improvise and simply take her eyes out and put 3D paint that will look like blood is coming out of her eye sockets. A solution can always be found! Wire, metal, 3D paint, fabric paint, beads anything can be used!
So, after I am done with the face, I have to dress up my doll. This is really random. Depends on my custom order or on what I might come up with as her clothing. In this case really again anything could be used. Leather, fabric, ribbons, wire, 3D paint or fabric paint, everything is perfect! These are just only a few of the materials you can use for this.
Of course if you have a custom order and a really specific design for it then you have to follow it. Again if the customer said that you can improvise then, use whatever it’s in front of you!
The process of the creation of the doll really depends on what kind of doll you are making and what style she will have!
I once made a girl with bat wings and another time an evil doll that was chocked by her alien baby which came of her womb with its placenta. She looked like a fly and her baby like a… well! As I said, whatever comes into your mind use it, and this has to do with any forms of art!
Just find your theme and style, release your thoughts and… CREATE!

jezebel - a doll made under a custom request Oya

I will just stick to my nightmares and … turn them into reality for you.

MySpace SpookiePookie Doll Shop
my Etsy shop

The Journey: Laura McCullough-DeLorme

7 05 2008

The path of my creative process has been a long and evolving one. I’ve traveled it easily and it’s rare that I feel stuck, uninspired or as if I’ve emptied the well and can no longer create something new. However, as long as I can remember, the real obstacle for me and one that held me back was (and sometimes still is) my own struggle with self-worth.

It isn’t that I don’t get a kick out of things I’ve made. In fact, I’ve been known to give myself loud applause and dance around in delight when a piece I’m working on turns out even better than I imagined! Yet, when it comes to feeling that my work is “art” or when I’m viewing it through other people’s eyes, I become stuck and fearful that what I do isn’t substantial enough to count.

This pattern first began to emerge when I was ten years old and sabotaged my dream of becoming a gymnast. I practiced alone with very little family support for several hours every single day for a spot on a team that for the very first time was accepting gymnasts under twelve. Then, after all of my effort, when the big day came I blew off the tryouts.

I was a natural, but I was embarrassed to show up in a secondhand bodysuit (which snapped at the crotch) instead of a real leotard and with my parents’ signature on the slip, but not their presence. Although I knew that my skill level was high, I didn’t feel legitimate compared to the other girls who looked and acted the part with hired coaches.

A few weeks later, I felt angry, hurt and disappointed in myself as I sat on the curb watching a parade pass and blinked back tears when the excited new gymnasts rode by on their float waving while everyone applauded.

This pattern carried itself into my adulthood. Several years ago, I began to draw and this time I was strongly supported by friends and family members. They encouraged me to make some prints and greeting cards of my work. I didn’t. Again, old feelings of doubt and of an underlying lack of confidence in myself surfaced and I was afraid to take a risk…I knew I was repeating old patterns and sabotaging myself, yet I made excuses about being too busy.

In spite of letting the drawings go, I kept creating and soon began making wallets and little purses out of paper and vinyl.

Again, I was encouraged to try to sell them. I agonized a long time before entering my wallets in my first juried fine arts show. I was petrified, but not of being rejected (I’m a playwright…rejection I can handle!), but of trying something “artsy” and demonstrating a clear effort to start something new, I was officially putting pressure on myself to “make a go of it”. Was I setting myself up for embarrassment or feelings of failure if it didn’t turn out the way I imagined?

The thing that finally tipped the scales in the “go ahead and apply” direction was that I knew I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake I made with gymnastics or my drawings. I didn’t want to see promotions for the show and know that maybe, just maybe, I could have been part of it if only I’d tried. Plus, I have a long history of trying too hard for other people and not enough for myself, so I went ahead and applied.

The wallets did win a spot in the show, but I’m embarrassed to share that my problems weren’t over. I began lamenting that I wasn’t going to be thin and look like a “real artist” in indie/artsy clothes, that other artists would think my booth was unprofessional, that I wouldn’t sell enough and that I’d be forced to keep my spirits up publicly for two days all while wanting to die and become invisible. Isn’t this lame? Talk about self-absorption.

Finally, I had to come to terms with the fact that all I can do is create and market. Those are the only two things I have control over…making things and finding places for them to be seen. How people react isn’t up to me, but standing behind my work and not having regrets is. I wasted years being afraid to put energy and time behind my own ideas and not making a commitment to being someone who not only creates beautiful things, but who isn’t afraid to be proud and believe that what she makes matters.

These days I’m committed to my work and while I’m still plagued by doubt at times, I don’t let it stop me. If you’re just getting started, I urge you not to waste precious time second-guessing and doubting yourself. Once you take the leap and really commit to your work, you’ll be amazed by how much lighter you feel. If you are reading this and recognize a little bit of yourself in my experience, I hope you’ll go look through your many boxes of saved work (we all have them) and reconsider the reasons you put it away. It’s never too late to give yourself or your art a second chance.

Balancing Career with Life – Lisa Liddy

23 02 2008

I’ve procrastinated on this one for long enough. The whole balance thing is not my strong suit, as anyone who knows me well knows.
I’ve had my own book design business for 17 years and added the Joolz jewely design side about 3 or 4 years ago (in an effort to maintain my sanity…jury is still out on that one!). Building the book design business has been successful enough that I no longer fear having to go back to corporate America (good thing as I no longer have the shoes for it!). However, it has taken most of that 17 years to learn to “try” to enjoy the valleys that come with the peaks in business. And I’m still learning how to carve out time for Joolz, when the reality is that The Printed Page still pays half the bills around here.
And somewhere in there, you’ve got to make room for Life. I’ve been fairly lucky in that regard. Owning the business means I can determine the hours the work gets done (and often time those hours are when most of the country is sleeping). It has meant that I can take my daughter to and from school and until recently (she’s 14) use the drive time to find out how her day went. I can plan my schedule for the day and adjust it for unexpected things like a sick child, chaperoning field trips, and helping with last minute assignments that crop up. It means I can take a day in the middle of the week and call it a mini-weekend (especially if I’ve worked a weekend to make a deadline).
I am most productive late in the day and evening. I am never a bundle of energy first thing in the morning and since my DH is out of town 5 days a week, I don’t have to deal with that morning energy that he brought to our marriage! My work day is broken down into chunks. The morning to early afternoon chunk that is often interrupted with client calls and emails, a couple of hours some days when my daughter is at tutoring in the early evening, and the “night shift” (from 9pm to midnight or later) when I can really get cranking on production work.
So where does the jewelry design fit into this? That’s a question that has been such a struggle this last year. The desire is there. I certainly have the materials oozing out of whole sections of the office. I have beads for all seasons and occasions. Finding time in the course of a day hasn’t worked regularly.
Depending on the stresses of the day, when the time is there, the creativity and desire is not. And so the frustration builds. Couple that with not yet finding the proper niche for regular sales of somewhat eclectic jewelry and I’ve hit some major walls this year.
I have a plan, though. Not sure why it didn’t occur to me sooner but sometimes the obvious is not so obvious. Briefly (as I’m sure I’ll use this topic as another blog entry) when I work on jewelry I have a “method”. I have multiple projects going at any time…laying out beads and pushing them around into bracelets and necklaces. Earrings come later and rings are a process unto themselves. Once I have an assortment of items laid out to my satisfaction (over several sessions usually), I spend time stringing or wiring all of them. Not finishing them with toggles and clasps. Just assembling, if you will. Another session is devoted to finishing work and earrings that match. Photos and web work is last (and often where the process breaks down since I’m on the computer hours at time for the book design work…spending more of it that isn’t chatting with forum friends is not my strong suit).
So my latest “brilliant” idea for fitting more Joolz time (and therefore more ME time!) is blocking several hours first thing in the morning several days a week. Before anyone else is up if I can pull it off, otherwise after the school run. Before the business of books heats up and I wonder where the day has gone. Given the way I like to work on my Joolz, I think it makes sense.
Stay tuned for an update on how it’s going!

Fame, Fortune and Reality – Susan Sheehan

17 02 2008

When it comes to our art or craft, most of us would like to eventually become famous.  Perhaps not recognized on the street, but certainly recognized in our medium.  In addition to feeling good about what we do, it is bound to increase our financial intake. But how does one become widely recognized and honored?  Or simply put, how do we get our name out there? 

Let me preface my advice by saying I am not famous….. Yet. But if I keep following my own advice, you’ll see my name elsewhere. Here are a few ideas to put you on the path to great fame: 

Get published – Write a how to article on a technique that has your unique twist.  Take great photos, write a clear concise set of instructions and see your name on the cover of a magazine at your favorite craft store.  You can also stalk the call for submissions at Lark Books.  Are you full of great advice?  Write a book. 

Teach – Teaching is a great way to get you known.  Each class is a slew of new faces that get to know you and what you do.  They tell their friends and have a memory of who you are for the rest of their lives.  Think of how many you could touch in the course of a year. 

Network – I know this one is widely used, but think about how you network.  Share your work with everyone.  Wear it, give it, or talk about it.  Join art organizations and participate.  Become a name seen among the members.  Become someone others in your medium can put a face or picture of your work to. 

Make a splash on the internet – If you are reading this article I know you utilize the internet.  But instead of just reading, participate.  Have a website and blog.  Join forums and post.  Join social networks and share pictures of what you do.   

Before you know it, people will start to know who you are.  You will get anonymous emails asking for your advice.  You may even get autograph requests.  Really!  It can happen to all of us. Any other ideas you would like to share I would love to hear.


Shows – Lori Anderson

30 01 2008

Shows are my bread and butter – the majority of my sales are made at shows, and in this article, I hope to share some of the ways I make them successful for me.

First, of course if finding the right show.

If at all possible, visit a show that you’re interested in and take a look before making a decision. You can learn a lot this way – are there a lot of customers? What genre seems to be predominant?

If you can’t visit a show beforehand, do some research. My favorite tool is Sunshine Artist Magazine ( What makes it a wonderful publication is the tons of show reviews that are written by the vendors, not the promoters. You get the skinny on how hard it is to set up, what last year was like, how busy it was, and what selected vendors made over the course of the show.

Be careful about putting too much weight on what any one vendor tells you. Someone may say, “OH this would be a GREAT show for you!”, but you don’t know what that person’s definition of “great” is. A good show for them might be $300, while a good show for you might be $3000. So take all suggestions with a grain of salt.

Decide if you would prefer a juried or non-juried show. Non-juried shows are usually inexpensive and they pretty much take anyone who applies. Juried shows require you turn in slides or digital photos of your work (about 4-5 pieces) as well as a slide of your booth, and the competition is high, particularly in certain categories like jewelry. These shows are normally more expensive, but can also net a lot of money.

Applying to shows is a lot of work.

I’ve always equated it with applying to college – fill in the application way in advance, pay your application fee, then wait and wait. Most juried shows have applications out in the fall and winter for the coming year’s shows. Here are some things to keep in mind:Pay a professional to photograph your work. You have literally seconds for the jury to see your work, and you want it to look its best. Additionally, the difference between professional slides and do-it-yourself slides (no matter how good) is easily seen to juries that see thousands of slides each year.

Keep a calendar that is JUST for your shows. I print out mine off the computer, pencil in shows that I’ve applied to, mark them out if I don’t get in and highlight them if I do. That way, you don’t accidentally apply to two shows on the same weekend, and you can pace yourself and not overextend yourself (or your inventory).

Be prepared to get rejection letters. I do about 15 shows a year, 95% juried, and I get my fair share of rejection letters. As I make jewelry, I’m already at a disadvantage – promoters get far more applications for jewelry than they do anything else. People who have done the show in the past usually get preference, so there may be only one new slot a year for your category!

Your booth is important!

When jurors look at slides and find two people whose work they love, the booth slide is often the tie breaker. You want your work to be presented in the best possible way. For jewelry or similar items, get your tables UP – I use bed risers to get them closer to eye level. I’ve collected pretty boxes from Marshalls or TJMaxx that I set busts on, to give height and levels. I tried to make my booth reflect a cute boutique – you may choose to make yours ultra-modern, with all black, white and silver, or go for a whimsical approach, and have all kinds of colors and cute stuff.For outdoor shows, you’ll need a tent. If you are just getting started and are not sure this is what you really want to do, an inexpensive EZUP will work. As the name says, it’s easy to put up, but it won’t stand up to abuse and if you are going to do tons of shows in various environments, you will probably want to invest in something else. I have a Light Dome (, which is expensive, but I love it because it’s quite sturdy, and I can use the frame for my indoor shows as well.

At the show:

Smile, have fun, and enjoy yourself, no matter what happens. There’s nothing that turns a prospective customer off quite like a vendor that is grumpy and busy talking to anyone who will listen about how slow the day is/how little money they’re making/how the booth two over is selling cheap stuff and killing your margin. If I encounter someone like that, I just walk away. Who needs the negative vibes?

Never ever ever read a book or newspaper at a show. Never. I can’t tell you how many vendors I’ve walked right by because they had their nose in a novel and I didn’t want to bother them. On the other hand, I do encourage you to work on a related project whenever feasible. I take chain maille or another time-intensive project with me to every show. Some shows, I’m too busy to even touch it, but when I do work on it, people like to stop and look, and it shows them that yes, you DID make all that stuff!

Whenever you make a sale, ask if they would like to receive your email or snail mail newsletter. A lot of people don’t like sharing emails anymore due to the huge increase in spam, but don’t mind giving a home address. This will allow you to market to them, promoting web sales or other shows in their area. I get a lot of repeat business this way.

Doing shows takes a lot of work, a lot of energy, and a lot of practice. I’m fortunate that my husband sets up my tent for me and is Chief Schlepper, but we also have learned to set up in rain/wind/with a three year old screaming. You just never know WHAT will happen! Here’s a couple of hints to keep you sane:

Keep a packing check list so you won’t forget things.

Keep a tool kit JUST for your shows.

Carry water. And aspirin. Oh yeah. And band aids.

Keep your sense of humor.

Before leaving town, go online and find out where the closest Walmart/Lowes/Home Depot is, for emergencies.

So there you go – a bare scraping-of-the-surface about shows. If you have more questions or need help, please feel free to email me at and I’ll gladly assist!