Monday, January 30, 2012

The Main Event!

This last weekend was filled with exciting times and all things creative.  Our "Through The Viewfinder" class, taught by artist Julie Bergmann and her husband Michael, brought the house down.  We already have sign-up requests for the next class, coming up the first week in March.  Amazing!  Let me describe the process to you. 

First, the students acquired the measurements necessary to build their lightboxes around an old vintage camera.

A little cutting and nailing...

...and then they were ready for an introductory shoot, out in the field.

Some people thought we were doing some sort of seismic survey.

Everyone veiwed the images they recorded onto their digital cameras while Michael and Julie gave some photoshop pointers.

Some cool looking vintage quality shots.  Bravo! 
Can hardly wait for the next class. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A word about "Handmade"

For the past few years, a grassroots movement has swept the country, endearing people to its principles of community and a personalized connection between artisan and patron.  What used to be an annual summer or holiday craft event has become a day to day retail experience for the mainstream.  The spirit of handmade is alive and well.

But it's the notion of what handmade means that has changed.  At one time, the word handcrafts would conjure images of little spice pillows, embroidery and homemade country jams made by grandmothers at harvest festivals.  Nowadays, with the help of the online store, Etsy, twenty-something suburbanites are on the verge of quitting their day jobs to go full time into their preferred line of work - making cool looking industrial desk lamps from found objects, or hand-bound journals from recycled leather scraps.  They're selling silk screened t-shirts with fun clever phrases on them and metal jewelry hand stamped with affirmations of hope and love.

And, it's not just on the internet where "handmade" is thriving.  Brick and mortar stores like ours have been sprouting up around the country in places like Boise, Indianapolis, Atlanta and Los Angeles.   Becky and I follow them on facebook and read about their success in our favorite magazines.  By the way, we're trying to get our store in a magazine, too.  So, don't hesitate to hook us up with someone you know.  We're shameless about that sort of stuff.

But, here's the rub.  It's hard to fill a store entirely with merchandise locally made by hand, for two reasons.  There's either not enough quality work being produced to stock the shelves, or not enough people willing to spend what the artisan needs for his time to make a product.

It's hard to compete with Wal-Mart.        

So how are store owners and marketing experts coping with this dilemma?  They're faking it.

Becky and I would love nothing more than to use the word "handmade" or "co-op" labeling our store, but we don't, because we can't.  We represent over 30 products made by people who live locally, and we encourage anyone to show us what they've got.  But we also sell books and cool things that make us smile.  Some of those cool things are made in China.  So, technically, we're not a "handmade" store, but we do sell things that are handmade.

We couldn't help but notice that some store names with the word "handmade" or "co-op" in the title carefully skirt the issue by adding a descriptive sub heading, "locally designed."  And, we've seen a trend in the large wholesalers that represent many product lines claiming "locally designed" when describing their merchandise.

My MacBook Pro is locally designed, by the way.

While "locally designed" may be a truthful statement, there's nothing unique about the claim, considering virtually everything we own is locally designed yet made in China.  And, I certainly haven't heard of anyone griping about whether or not something was designed locally.  I believe the gripe lies in where something is made.  Let's all keep the good intentions in line, and refrain from watering down "handmade" like we've done with "organic," "green," and "eco-friendly."  Just a thought.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We're on Etsy

Whew!  It's a pretty daunting task to find that starting point for an online store.  After a lot of careful deliberation and a brief foray into ecommerce software and online merchant service, we decided that Etsy would be the best place to set up shop.  Shopify and Bigcartel seem like the biggest players in the online shop hosting business, outside of Etsy, but they're just lone wolves in the internet sea.  Etsy is good because of the social networking you can do while also utilizing the space to show what you've got.

There are definitely pluses and minuses to all of it, between monthly fees, per listing fees, credit card fees, transaction fees - daunting is the operative word, indeed!  

Anyway, our first few items can be seen here.

In the mean time, I'm branching off from this idea...

...but it's going to be bigger and better.  I can't wait to get started on it.  But for now, I have a large project that was commissioned by another store in the village.  I'll let you know when it's up, so you can check it out.  Oh, and don't forget, the Wine Bottle Pendant class is this Saturday.  Sign up on line or stop in the store.  

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Container Gardens!

What a fun morning!  The table was set and ready with all of the goodies to choose from.  Becky laid out all of her favorite succulents and vintage pottery for people to choose from.  Everyone eagerly dug in and got down to business.

It looks like we may have some class teachers amongst the students.  

A successful day at the heirloom workshop, indeed!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Going Live With Our Store

The journey begins, into the vast world of global shopping.  We're pleased to announce that our store will be online very very soon.  So, now you'll actually be able to get up close and personal for real, and see what all the hub-bub has been about in Claremont village.

As Pepe says...

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Green Ideas

There's going to be a big fundraising party in March for our little hamlet's government coffers, and the planners have asked us to be a part of it.  In lieu of the color green for St. Patrick's day, they've decided that the theme will be "green living."  So check out what we're proposing.

As we all know, throwing a party means throwing down some cash for beverages, and lots of 'em.

 And look what you end up with at the end of the night. 


We're proposing the setting up of a nifty recycling station.  We'll take each wine bottle as it's emptied throughout the evening, cut it into two pieces and fill the top with dirt and herb seeds.

I can't say we're the first ones to come up with this, but it will make for a great time for everyone who wants to participate in the process.  And, they get to leave with a nice party favor.  We'll see how it flies when we show off the idea to the city big wigs.  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A new year with big ideas!

Since people have expressed so much excitement over the "make and take" section of the store, we've decided to expand the workshop area with a groovy picnic bench.  Believe it or not, it's actually custom made to fit that space, as a bench of standard size is far to wide.

We've also added the Craft Lab Menu, so that we can say it like we mean it.  Now, there's no confusion to all of the confusion that goes with the workshop and its eye candy.

Don't just sit there....make something!  :)