20 December 2009

Did You Buy Art This Year? Part Two

This is a continuation of yesterday's post. Check that out to see more of the art that I bought for myself this year.

This fun horse was in the booth next to me at the Boulder Art Fair and made me smile all weekend. I just had to take her home with me! I know it is supposed to be "yard art", but I want to see it every day in my house in the winter. Turns out that it makes good wall art too. I misplaced the business card and so don't know the artist.

Definitely "folk art" but I loved the entire concept. Pam Dyers uses ordinary lumber (some new, some old) and fashions heart shapes of various sizes and styles, paints them all the same color, and then distresses the paint. The brilliance comes in her use of old hardware to embellish and present the hearts. Every one is absolutely unique. I had a hard time choosing amongst them, but ended up with this large piece featuring an antique ice-block carrier. Contact me if you want her email.

Another piece of folk-art, and a long heart-shape too! I don't collect red/pink hearts, but for some reason both of these pieces spoke to me this spring. I think they both appealed to the carpenter side of me. This one recycles corrugated barn siding and uses rough steel wire to hold all the pieces together. Of course, I have a weakness for wire! I cannot find the business card for this artist either; it has been one of those years.

Finally, some 2-D art! John Blowers is a contemporary acrylic painter, and I found his work at the Cantigny Art Fair in Illinois. His paintings are fairly large and normally he only sells originals, no reproductions. This year, however, he decided to have a few giclee prints available, which is what this is. I completely understand the desire for artists to only offer originals, but am very glad that good reproductions exist, because that is the only way that I can afford the work! I love the interplay of shape and color in this piece.

Tomorrow: ceramics!

19 December 2009

Did You Buy Art This Year?

One of the wonderful things about selling my work at art fairs is that I get to see a lot of great art, and one of the wonderful things about having other people buy MY work is that I get to then pass on my good fortune by buying the work of other artists and craftspeople. I am going to devote the next few days to presenting the art that I bought for myself this year.

And for those of you waiting for it, the Booth Evolution thread will continue after Christmas!

I got this woven basket just a few weeks ago at "Art at Ramsey," in St. Paul, MN. The artist, Claudia Nacktsheim, does not have a website.

I wanted this bag for a month before I bought it. I love it! It is wet-felted by a fellow Minnesotan. You can find her work at Vantasticdesigns.etsy.com.

Grassy Creek Brooms has been my neighbor both years that I have been at the War Eagle Fair in Arkansas. Jerry and Judy make the brooms by hand and another artist (I'm sorry, I forgot your name!) makes the copper dust pans. The long broom is for cobwebs on the ceiling and it is the BEST. I use it regularly and no longer have to use either a ladder or a dirty floor broom to reach the ceiling.

The copper is patinaed with real leaves. I appreciate that the dust pan actually sits flat on the floor without needing to be held. Good design!

This is Harmony. Sure, there are other hand-made bears out there, but how many come with the story behind this one? The artist, Nancy Dane, made a large bear for herself (Bentley) many years ago, and so many of her friends wanted one too that she found herself making it into a business. Her bears are adorable and articulated! If you ever get a chance to meet Bentley himself, I highly recommend it as he is quite a character (as is his mom). You think I'm kidding, but that bear has some stories! Read more at the Bentley and Buddies website. If you want a bear from Nancy, you'd better get one fast since she is retiring in a year.

13 December 2009


As you know from reading about my booth design, I do not like the idea of hiding my work behind glass. The benefit to having it out is that people can touch the work and try it on. Many marketing studies show that being able to touch an item is far more likely to lead to a sale. Plus I want people to be able to interact with my work. The downside, however, should be clear: shoplifting. "Shoplifting" sounds too innocent though, so lets just call it what it is: theft!

Surprisingly, I have not had much of a problem with theft. A few bracelets a year, and very rarely, a pair of earrings. 2008 was the worst year (several bracelets gone - usually the expensive woven ones) and I expected an uptick in theft this year due to the bad economy but it was down by quite a bit. By October I had only lost one braided bracelet and one pair of earrings. At the Historic Shaw Art Fair, however, all that ended as I had one bracelet and three pendants taken, all in quick succession. When you see the empty spots it is very disheartening, and there is not much you can do about it. I try not to let the disappointment and anger affect how I interact with patrons, but I must admit that sometimes the shock of the adrenalin rush is hard to overcome.

Now imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when one of the organizers of the Shaw Art Fair left me a voice mail about receiving (anonymously) two envelopes, one with what felt like jewelry and one with money. They were forwarded to me and I just received them this week. It appears from the notes written on the envelopes that a young child took the pendants and this was discovered later by a parent. The parent apologized and returned one pendant in an envelope. The other envelope had a scrawled apology from the child (clearly not very old and still learning to write!) with money for another pendant. I really am very heartened by this and am sure that this is being used as a teaching moment for the child. I never expected to have items returned or paid for and applaud the parent.

If the parent in St. Louis reads this, know that I appreciate having my stolen items returned and hope the child learns a lesson from this. You have integrity I am grateful that people like you are out there. Thank you!! I will certainly come back to Shaw, if I can.

08 December 2009

Booth Evolution-Part Two

I posted about the first booth design in November. Check out that post first to catch up on the evolution.

So lets explore this second version. First of all, it is an outdoor set-up and still has the three original tables. These were OK for a small indoor space but under a 10x10 canopy seem a bit lost in the great open space. Also, I came to despise the appearance of the table tops overhanging the base. It just looks weird.

I made new A-frames (2x2 lumber and 1/4" plywood) and was able to reuse the tops from the old A-frames. The slate is gone and I've painted the frames a neutral dark-grey. I used a jig-saw to cut half-round discs which were glued to the frames. These curved discs allowed the Viking knit necklaces to be displayed with a nice curve, as they would naturally hang when worn. MUCH better than the first display of these pieces!

I made basic earring cards that I hung on the bottom of the A-frames on cup-hooks. I thought this looked neat and nicely displayed, but the wind, again, proved to be a problem for this display. A good gust could sweep all the cards up and off of their hooks! Also, making earrings was not a priority for me then, so not many are displayed and there is no room for growth on these tables. A problem!

The biggest positive change is with the display of the bracelets. I used 1x1 wood to make small racks and then covered them with a coordinating fabric (green silk, actually). This allows the woven wire bracelets to be neatly displayed and makes it possible for me to easily keep track of them!

I added some curtains from JC Penny to create a warmer space and they greatly improved the overall "feel" of the booth, making it warm and welcoming. When the sun shines through the walls the interior glows gold! Patterned curtains are tied to the (ugly) front frame legs to hide them.

All-in-all, a better display, but it still has issues, primarily with the use of the two trapezoidal tables. I still liked the concept of creating a "room" and resisted (am still resisting!) the pull to just put it all behind glass cases. My work wants to be touched and tried on! In addition, because I actively demonstrate the Viking weave in my booth at the work table, I still need to devote some open space to allow me to work and to access the tables. The first booth was used in 2006 and this booth in 2007. The next post in this series will show the booth without those tables!

30 November 2009

Sale Continues!

Items in my etsy shop will remain on sale through today (Cyber Monday). By tomorrow morning (Dec. 1), the prices will revert to normal, so this is your best chance to buy one of my Viking knit necklaces and woven bracelets!

25 November 2009

Black Friday Sale

I should have posted this last week! I am having a sale this weekend on selected items in my etsy shop (janraven.etsy.com), and plan on marking many items down at least 10%, PLUS free shipping to addresses in the US. I only have one of each item listed, so once they are sold, they won't be relisted any time soon! I am certain that all the Viking Knit Necklaces will be on sale, so if you have been thinking of buying one, there won't be a better time.

And while you are checking out my etsy shop, keep in mind that other members of my etsy Street Team, HandmadeMN, are also having a sale. Even if you don't buy from me, I encourage you to buy from another artist!

21 November 2009

Excluding your IP Address from Google Analytics

While working on promoting my etsy shop I took a look at my Google Analytics page and noted, with some satisfaction, that the activity at my shop had increased right around the time that I began listing more items earlier this week. Then I began to wonder if any of that activity was actually ME, looking at my own shop and listings as I made changes. I recalled reading once that you could exclude your own IP address from the Analytics, so I decided to find out how to do that.

I will share how I did it here for anyone else interested in doing this for their own website or etsy shop. For the purposes of this post, I am going to assume that you already have a Google account and have the Analytics product already set up and tracking activity to your site or shop.

1. Log into your Google account.
2. Click on Analytics.
3. In the lower right-hand corner of the screen, click on Filter Manager.
4. On the next screen, click on Add Filter, and give your filter a name.
5. Choose Filter Type=Exclude IP Address from the menu.
6. Enter the IP address for your own home computer. Find this number by going to MyIPAddress.com. Keep in mind that this IP address is for the network you are using at the time you visit the site. If you take your laptop to a coffeeshop and use their wifi, their IP address is different so visits to your own site will be logged. I'm guessing this won't be too big of an issue for anyone. If you really want to, you can add another filter to exclude all your favorite wifi hotspots! Just visit MyIPAddress.com again to get the address.
7. Select which profiles you want the filter applied to and add them.
8. Click Save Changes. Done!!

Now you can visit your own site all you want and not mess up the statistics on how many people visit your site!