PLEASE VISIT MY SHOP @ TORCHWOODSTUDIO.ETSY.COM
In my on-going efforts to promote other independent artists, and especially the awesome folks over at Etsy.com, the Featured Artists Spotlight rolls on! Twice a week, I feature an Etsy shop owner who creates items that will make you cry, sing, dance, reach for your wallet or just make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Sort of like my pal here is making you feel right now... :)
The feature article includes all sorts of insightful questions and it brings some well deserved attention to those artists who obviously put their passion into their work.
So, how does your shop end up being featured on this blog? Easy.... All you have to do is leave a comment here with a little blurb about why you would like to be featured along with the name of your Etsy Shop.
The other thing I ask is that you be willing to participate in a giveaway where you offer up something from your shop worth at least $10. Each week I draw a winning name from the readers who have viewed your spotlight article and left a comment about their favorite item in your shop! As I have many international readers, you would have to be willing to ship worldwide. Sound interesting??
Well, leave a comment and the name of your Etsy shop and check back often to see who is on their way to fame and fortune courtesy of Torchwood Studio!
The spotlight today features Chris Zielski of CopperLeaf Studios. When I joined Etsy, this was one of the first shops I came across and I've been hooked ever since. It's an honor to put the spotlight on Chris today! When I was drooling over her work, I thought it was ceramic based due to the textures and colors. Once I was able to tear my eyes from the work itself and do some reading, I realized that this is etched metal! Unbelievable...take a look and fall in love.
So, Chris, give us some background on who you are.
My name is Chris Zielski. My “day job” is an art teacher. I was lucky enough to get hired at an incredible school system but, because I was the last one in, I’ve done a lot of traveling, teaching everything from 4th grade to high school to college, often all within the same day.
Teaching has had a huge impact on my artwork. I’ve had to learn so many different medias, and often they combine in my work. I think that’s what keeps it fresh for me – the challenge of melding disciplines to create something new and unique.
What is the name of your Etsy shop name?
Copper Leaf Studios
Where else can people find you on-line or in your local area?
Locally, I’m represented by Red Dot Project, Juma Gallery, and River Gallery (Northeast OH). I also have a few of out-of-state galleries where I wholesale. On-line, I’m a member of Trunkt.org, and Etsy.
Which Etsy Street Teams or Groups do you belong to?
Please tell us a little about your artwork. How did you get into working with metal?
I was researching non-toxic printmaking techniques for a high school art class. I ended up not teaching the class again, but fell in love with the texture of etching. It took about 2 years to really understand the nuances of the processes, and then a few more to really develop my own style. But I fell in love, and never looked back!
What has been your most memorable moment selling your work?
Once I got a piece accepted into a show that ended up traveling internationally. When I finally got it back, it was sent with the placard from a show in Yokohama, Japan with the title & my name written in Japanese.
Okay, that wasn’t a “selling” moment per say… my most exciting selling moment came a few months ago when I sold a piece to Donna Penfield, the owner of the Louis Penfield House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. She asked if she could carry some of my work, as it reflects a style similar to Wright’s architecture. He’s been my favorite since I can remember; it was such a cool compliment.
Have you taken any business classes to help you prepare for being an Etsy shop owner?
Yes, I took an incredible class called “Artist as Entrepreneur” from the Cleveland-based Community Partnership for Arts and Culture. It was a 3-day intensive class that focused on everything from branding to marketing to copyright to accounting. I highly recommend it! I believe if you take yourself seriously, others will as well.
Who or What inspires you?
I love texture! And playing with organic things in a geometric format. Layering metal and glass and wire; etching, bending, layering, and arranging materials. Recently I’ve started using Photoshop to design new pieces, starting with either a digital photo or a sketch and pasting into it. It’s opened up a whole new world for me – it looks so close to the finished piece, it’s scary! I actually had someone send prospective clients downtown to see a piece that didn’t yet exist because he saw the sketch on-line. I had a lot of explaining to do on that one!
What are some of your current projects?
I'm working on a commission for COSE. The piece will consist of five panels of cut copper pieces put together in a mosaic-style that forms a landscape. The finished piece will be about 4’ tall and 7’ wide (1.2m x 2.2m). This is what it will look like:
Another commission is an award consisting of 20 pieces that fit together to form a map of the Great Lakes that will be separated at the end of a convention and given to the 19 guest speakers, with the last piece being retained by the hosting organization.
If you could work with any company, who would it be?
Lincoln Electric! I hear they have the world’s coolest plasma & water cutters. In layman’s terms, very expensive machines that can cut intricate designs into metal. Right now, it’s just me and a jeweler’s saw.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years with your business?
Honestly, I’m not sure! I used to have it all planned out, but the more I’ve been working as an artist, the less I’ve been able to determine what will happen next. I’ve had so many opportunities that I never would have dreamt of… and many things I thought I would do that I ended up not, for whatever reason. I’ve learned to just enjoy the ride, and be open to as many opportunities as possible.
Thanks to Chris for the great interview and the great work. All I can say is that I wish my art teachers in school had been this talented. Best of luck to you and your shop!
Be sure to check in tomorrow for the next Artist Spotlight. This one will feature Susan Nelson of Capitolagirl and her "cool, upbeat, sassy and unique jewelry for women." You don't want to miss this one.
I started with a glass vase that I think was a wine decanter in a past life, frosted it with some Armour Etch (note to self: Armour Etch does not play nice with bare skin) and then went to work making the large celtic knots. I'm still trying to find a way to do some more elaborate knots but the process is eluding me at this point. After the knots were finished, I laid on the celtic knot stamped gold borders and then went to work layering the custom mixed dark pearlescent green to finish it off.
Once the whole thing was cured, it was time for sanding. Trying to sand something with curves and a thin neck is not as easy as it looks. As I like to have a glass smooth finish on all my pieces, sanding this all the way up to 800 grit and still have it keep a nice round shape severely tried my patience...lol All in all, it ended up looking like the idea I had in my head and that's all I can ask for.
I don't know what it is about Celtic Knots that I like so much. I love working them into my new pieces. It might have something to do with the fact that I'm part Irish...lol...maybe it's a genetic thing. I've got it up in my Etsy shop now so take a stroll over there and you can see some better pics of it.
Has this ever happaned to you? You get a flash of inspiration one night and you start to work feverishly on a polymer clay work of art. Once it's finished, you can't believe what you created...the colors and the texture came out exactly the way you pictured it in your mind. Now, you find that others love this particular piece and they want you to make one for them....... in the same exact colors. If your creative process is anything like mine, you probably mix your own custom colors. If you started with polymer clay like I did, you never ever wrote down what amounts and what colors made up that one of a kind flashy bluish-purplish tone that you now have to try and re-create.
Well, here comes Maggie Maggio to the rescue. She has provided everyone with a video that explains her process for creating your own colors scales along with a printable handout that diagrams that entire process. I have used her color scale idea and it allows me to re-create the same custom color over and over with no variance. I highly recommend this!
While visiting the websites and blogs of people who have left comments here, I ended up at the blog of Alyice Edrich Photography & Art. Her blog has some really great photography tips and I recommend her blog to those of you that are trying to learn how to take excellent photos of your own art. She also is a fellow Etsian and you can find her shop here.
So, while looking through her blog, I came across one of her posts that concerned SNAG, the Society of North American Goldsmiths. SNAG has an invaluable free resource for all artists and crafters worldwide called Professional Guidelines.
According to their website, it is SNAG's goal that "that these documents become a basic tool in implementing improved and equitable business, leading toward standard professional practices."
As Alyice explained, "Basically what that means is that if you’re ready to start selling your art to galleries, at craft shows, in exhibits, or to publications, the information found on this web page will help you make wise, informed decisions. Decisions that actually benefit you, the artist–protecting your art, your finances, and your reputation."
Your going to find information ranging from tips on getting your art into a Juried Exhibition, Inventory Records, Contracts and everything in between. To find this information all in one place and free...well, you can't get any better than that. Take a look at it and be sure to pass this along to your friends within the arts and crafts community.
I was rummaging through my favorite Etsy shops today and I came across this print by Lyse Marion of ImagineStudio. It's name is "Transformation" and Lyse says it is a "high quality limited edition fine art Giclee print of an digital photo fusion collage".
How amazing is this? Lyse certainly has some talent....and I have GOT to learn how to do this myself..lol Take a look at her shop and see some of the other amazing things she is doing.
I found this over at Push A Pixel - it's a great site that highlights artists from around the world. Check it out, they've got some amazing talent over there. Now, back to the commercial. If this had been a real test, Torch would be doing some remedial.
Somehow I made it onto two Etsy Treasury collections today. Not sure how that happened but I'm not going to question it...lol (The Etsy Gods can be fickle). For those of you that aren't familiar with what a Treasury is, here is the definition courtesy of The Sweetest Pea:
Satisfy your inner curator — Treasury to the rescue! The Treasury is a member-curated gallery of short-lived lists of 12 hand-picked items each (plus four alternates). It functions as a high-demand (and pretty!) promotional tool that many devoted Etsians fight to get. Members can feature their favorite items, items selected on a theme, or just however they like. The Treasury is not intended for self-promotion, but instead to acknowledge and share the many cool things for sale on Etsy.
I find it hard to believe that I was included with this Treasury :) There are some real works of art in this one. The painting titled "Fossil" by kellycstudio is just amazing with the deep rich tones she used. Her Etsy shop is filled with many other paintings that you just want to drool over.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a huge fan of hand-thrown pottery. With the almost limitless range of shapes to create and the incredible effects you can achieve with glazes, there is always something in pottery that appeals to everyone. The soda fired stoneware bowl by stonewareporcelain is beautiful as are all of the other pieces in his shop. I'm glad I'm not a rich guy, cause I would just end up giving all of it to his shop....lol
Amazing work from all of the Etsy artists here! A big congrats and thank you to CrowleyManor for curating this fantastic Treasury and for honoring me by including one of my pieces.
I don't know why, but as soon as I saw this Treasury, the words "Goldenly Delicious" sprang to mind...lol Now I'm hungry for a bowl of Golden Grahams :)
What a great collections of pieces. Keep in mind that everyone of these pieces is made with...not wood...not metal....but Polymer Clay! This is why I love working with this particular medium. The effects you can achieve with it are limitless. You can make an art piece that looks like it was hewn from a piece oak or you can take the clay and make it look like any metal. It's just amazing stuff.
I'd like to point something out here. Look at the business card holder on the lower left. That piece was done by Etsy Artist "Naftali" otherwise known as Janice Abarbanel. By her own admission, she is fairly new to the world of polymer clay but her work is unbelievable. She is one of the reasons my creations are "out of the norm" within the polyclay world. I came across some of her stuff when I was first starting out and I was just blown away at the effects and designs she was accomplishing with polymer clay. At that point, I sat down and revamped my entire way of thinking when it came to using polymer clay. I guess you could say she was one of my inspirations :) To be included in a Treasury with one of her pieces is humbling beyond compare.
Thanks much to DC Designs for curating a truly inspirational Treasury. DC Design is also a fellow member of the Polymer Clay Artists Guild of Etsy so thanks for recognizing my artwork within the group :)
Today's feature will shine the Artist Spotlight on Susan Hume of Callooh Callay!
So, Susan, tell us how you came up with your unique shop name?
My shop name is from the Jabberwocky poem by C.S. Lewis. (Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! He chortled in his joy.) My son and one of his friends were quoting the poem one day when I was searching for a name, and it had a great ring to it.
Jewelry made from vintage buttons, such as celluloid and Bakelite, and from other vintage items or watch parts. Also, a few pieces of vintage jewelry and other vintage items.
How did you get into making jewelry with vintage buttons?
I sort of backed into it. I had been making brooches for a year or so as gifts for friends, so I had a ton of supplies. Then I read about Etsy in the New York Times and just sort of launched into it. Now, of course, I’m hooked.
What makes your products special? What sets you apart from the crowd?
Well, it’s very hard in jewelry and even in a small niche like vintage button jewelry to stand apart from the crowd. There are so many people doing such beautiful work. But I think that if you look around, you find that everyone’s work is a little different in terms of the types of buttons they prefer, the colors and combinations, even to some extent the way they put their work together. I don’t worry too much about trying to be different—I think everybody has their own aesthetic. I just try to find interesting, beautiful buttons and do something cool with them. I do think they look a little different from what others are doing, but I often see jewelry that I wish I’d made.
One thing I’ve started doing in the past month or so is combining old watch parts with vintage buttons, and that’s something I haven’t seen elsewhere yet--you see steampunk, you see vintage button jewelry, but not the combination. (Someone else is no doubt doing the same thing--nothing new under the sun--but I haven’t seen it yet.)
What are your current projects?
I just got my first Alchemy bid accepted, so I’m doing a custom steampunk necklace centered on a large celluloid wafer button. I also am working on a few necklaces incorporating vintage jewelry, and I’m trying my hand at making some cuffs (to use some of the buttons that don’t lend themselves to jewelry). I’ve got a few collage projects going as well, so I would say it’s like almost everybody else: more ideas than time.
Have you taken any business classes to help you prepare for being an Etsy shop owner?
No, but I worked in for a number of years in communications and in management, and I’ve also been freelance editing and writing for a number of years, so I have some experience in marketing, dealing with budgets, coping with the IRS, etc. The technical aspects of an online business and blog are more challenging for me—figuring out how Technorati works, for example, and learning how to use Gimp (since I’m too cheap to buy PhotoShop).
How do you decide on the price of your items?
When I first started selling online, I looked around at many shops doing similar work to see how they priced it, and the answers were all over the board, so I’ve sort of quit paying attention. I have a range I stay in, more or less, and price specific items based on the value of the buttons used (both in intrinsic terms, like how rare and beautiful they might be, and also what I had to pay for them), the number of buttons used, and how appealing I find the piece. For vintage items I sell, I do as much research as I can to see what similar items are going for. I also have occasionally asked advice from other Etsy vintage sellers—there’s a wealth of knowledge here.
What role does creativity play in your marketing methods?
I started a blog partially to promote my shop and partially because I haven’t had any time to write since I started at Etsy. So at least this way I’m doing a little writing almost every day, and it’s been a lot of fun. Right now I’m running an Ugly Necklace Contest to try to pull people into my blog. I’m still trying to expand my marketing efforts outside of Etsy, which is just a matter of finding time to figure it all out. Within Etsy, marketing comes into play in terms of developing treasuries, working with the Etsy Vintage Street Team to figure out ways to co-promote our shops, and even simple things like trying to be amusing and upbeat in the forums.
Thanks to Susan for a great interview! Also thanks much for educating me on what "SteamPunk" is! I had no clue..lol Best of luck to you and your shop!!