I don’t know all the words.

I’m an artist who doesn’t really know how to talk about art.

I know terms like “abstract” and “modern” but any further breakdown into categories and I’m completely lost. The same with techniques: I’ve probably done a few of them but that’s just experimenting; I’d look at you blankly if you were to give those techniques a proper name.

More recently I was wanting little tags with the word “wanderlust” stamped on them. I described it in my seller’s group exactly like that, and was later informed that the word I was looking for was “engraving” (done in the kindest way).

With bookbinding I’ve expended a bit more effort and know many of the names, as I think a luxury boutique selling journals at my price point should be knowledgeable, but there are gaps, especially when it comes to leatherworking: I know how to use the tools but not what they’re called.

My point is, though, that I know how to do all these things. I’ve stumbled my way into the art world, blithely ignoring textbooks and guides and simply doing, sounding like I don’t have a clue but creating nonetheless. And I think art should be approached this way. I’ve seen many people blanch at the thought of taking an art class, overwhelmed by the terms/supplies/techniques … and really all they need to do is put pen to paper or paintbrush to canvas. The rest can be learned on an as-needed basis, as you figure out what mediums call to you and what you want to accomplish/speak with your art.

So Art On, my friends, and don’t worry about figuring everything out. Just do;)

A tour of my studio. In black and white.

I’ve been waiting for the moment I clean everything up and put everything back in place, but I am one of those people that destroy in order to create and putting it all back together takes precious time away. Not to say I never clean up, I do, but it never looks “amazing” and like those awe-inspiring artist’s studios various organizations feature. So I took pictures on a normal day in black and white, because that felt more forgiving;)

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Where all of the bookbinding and photo shoots take place. On the left is my bookbinding table (it’s ALWAYS a mess) and on the right is my photo shoot setup (it actually remains somewhat organized). In the middle is where my journals/leather/book sculptures are stored, strategically placed by energy-efficient curtains so the sunlight doesn’t warp the pages.

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This used to be my center of operations because that’s where my laptop goes. Since we rearranged our house the tv that was near my studio is gone, so my youngest gets to watch shows here instead.

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My paper station. I’ll sometimes bring my journal supplies to our tv room so I can watch the kids while I work, and here you see how I “cleaned” it up (I dumped it right here;).

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My shipping station. I keep all cardboard boxes and filler that I receive and I reuse the bits that have no logos on them. I also keep a supply of USPS priority mail packages, all other packaging supplies, my tea stash, and my scent warmer.

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Here you can see the influence of my youngest. Apparently spilling water all over the floor and shredding bits of tissue paper into it was amazing fun;) To the left is my printer station, although I had to move my professional printer closer to our router because it was stopping in the middle of printing. Hopefully once we get a booster I can put it back.

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A closer look at my photo station.

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This is why I have a hard time finding all my tools, this desk really does get messy. Also note my stack of textbooks: when you don’t have a bookpress you improvise:)

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And this is where I work. I didn’t have enough of a lovely mermaid-ish leather to make a larger journal so I’m preparing a shorter piece to be sewn with another glittery piece so I can utilize every last scrap.

And there you are. My studio in all its messy glory (although all products are treated with gloved fingers once they’re completed).

Art On, my friends!

Spring is coming.

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I’ve noticed that now we live in an area that experiences the four seasons we’ve become cyclical … during the winter our activity slows down, we tend to watch more shows and read more books, and we both tend to pack on a pound or two. But once spring starts showing up we dust off our running shoes and start living outdoors more, that pound or two drops off, and we glory in the nature that is all around us.

I think the seasons affect my artistry as well (effect? I have trouble with that one). I’ve had visions flash through my head but it’s cold, the weather is dismal, I don’t want to draw. I made journals instead, journals that you can hunker down with beside the fire and a steaming cup of coffee. But even that is changing: I bought bright spring-y fabrics this week and introduced a new line of colorful journals into the shop.

So today I’m going to bask in the sunshine and delight in the flowers making their shy appearance and let the inspiration flow.

Art On, my friends:)

I did not “Art On” this week.

I hesitate to proclaim on social media that we’re sick, because that could put off potential buyers -but- the simple truth is we have been sick for over two weeks now. I succumbed last Friday with an awful, head-in-the-vise sinus something that also felt like flu and I’m still weak and prone to lying on the couch. I can assure my customers that I did not handle anything without copious amounts of hand-washing and glove-putting-on, and actually my orders timed themselves well-I had nothing on the worst days (it did not occur to me to put my shop in vacation mode).

I had no desire to create anything. I wanted to be on the couch with my warm drinks, ibuprofen, blankets, and a book. I managed to re-read the entire Amelia Peabody series (I read fast: there are around 22 volumes in that series I think) and am left with the feeling that we should leave everything behind, buy an RV, and start exploring/solving mysteries (Amelia Peabody is, along with her husband Emerson, an Egyptologist who manages to stumble on dead bodies every year). I don’t actually want to do that, but 22 volumes does a number on one.

Yesterday I did make it back into my studio and I set up another shelving unit for my copious amounts of leather. I finished two journals that had been languishing, and I listed one. I will list the other today (it had to dry). After those efforts I once again collapsed on the couch in the warm sunshine and thought of Egypt (which led to a wikipedia smorgasbord) and sipped my Throat Coat tea (the best thing ever, look in the herbal aisle at your local supermarket).

Today I am back in the studio, typing this up (obviously;), taking listing photos, and pondering what I “feel” like making. I might not make anything, since I’m not getting any “sparks”, if you will, and my workout this morning left me exhausted. But I’m well enough that the thought of spending the day reading does not bring warm fuzzies … I want to be doing something. But I don’t wanna. But I really do. So maybe I’ll go out into the sunshine and fend off the deer that want to eat all of the green things in my front yard and seek inspiration from nature. I hope that come Monday we’ll all be feeling well and that the creative spark comes back and that I’ll have pretties to show you.

In the meantime, I will still say “Art On”, unless you really need to be on the couch lazing in the warm sunshine.

Make them drool.

As a small business owner, as an artisan: you have to spin a web of product deliciousness that appeals to your customers. This is something I think about frequently as I decide how to price things: it can be tempting to think “no one would pay that price for that item” but that’s simply not true … it’s actually quite a hurdle to obtain the skill, set up all the tools, and not everyone wants to go through that process. And thus they’ll gladly hand over the money and consider it well-spent.

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Take this table, for instance.

We calculated that with a couple thousand worth of tools, and another couple thousand for wood and hardware, we could make our own version of this table. But we have a base of knowledge for this type of craft, we have the room to store said tools, and we have the room to actually construct this beautiful thing. Not everyone has that, or wants to have that, and so they plunk down $15k and are happy with their purchase (even I would plunk down the cash if I had it … it’s gorgeous).

So the moral of Monday is don’t sell yourself short. Charge accordingly; there will be some who want Amazon pricing and they’ll move on, but you’ll capture the attention of those who know quality when they see it and are willing to spend to obtain it.

Art On, my friends!