Saturday, December 18, 2010

Do You Do Custom Orders?

This month’s Blog Carnival* question is: Do you take custom orders? What kind of custom work do you do or not do? What has been your favorite custom piece?

The short answer is, yes. We do a lot of custom orders, typically utilizing things that people bring us that they would like to have incorporated into something they can wear.

This is very satisfying work because the resulting piece usually has deep meaning and personal value for the recipient. It can also be nerve wracking, as we are painfully aware that the material we are working with is irreplaceable – and often unstable, unsuited, and unintended for jewelry use. But, that is also the great creative challenge, to make it so.

Because we are fairly well known within the jewelry field for our ability to work with just about any material, no matter how odd, other jewelers and museums often refer work to us. These projects have included no end of mineral and rock specimens, antiquities and artifacts, old machine parts and mechanical devices, found objects of every conceivable type, food, other jewelry, glasses and lens, computer and electronic parts, weapons, fabrics, liquids, human teeth and taxidermied animals.

Its impossible to identify a “favorite” piece, because each one is a unique part of someone’s life and touches us in different ways. One gentleman brought us his great-grandfather’s watch that had been worn by successive generations of his family through four wars. That watch was beat to shit and looked like it had been through four wars, but you knew that every scratch, nick and dent had a story behind it.

Another client casually dropped by the studio one afternoon and dropped off a bag of artifacts that she had collected over 40 years of world travel. There was stuff in that bag that predated the time of Christ from a wide variety of cultures. And now it was all sitting on our bench. Stuff like this blows our mind when we think of the journey through time and space that these objects have taken.

Yet another project was working with reclaimed parts from a Soyuz space capsule.

That seemed like a souvenir worth having, but terribly difficult material to work with. Who knows what specialized alloy of god-knows-what this stuff was made from. One thing’s for certain, it didn’t work like any metal we have ever encountered before or since.

So, by now, most of you are thinking, “ shut up and show me”. OK. This is a piece we did for one of our long-time collectors. It started as a couple of coins from antiquity, a couple of artifacts, and a request to “make something”.

* Blog Carnival is a project of EtsyMetal, where member artists share their thoughts on a monthly theme.

Read the other blogs to get a broader view of how different artists approach this topic.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Business Success Secrets for Artists

EtsyMetal Blog Carnival
Each month, the artists at EtsyMetal take a crack at a different topic related to the arts. This month it's Business Success Secrets: What does it mean to you to be "successful" in business as an artist? How do you walk the line between creativity and profitability? What is the best thing you've done for your business?

Artists often wrestle with, and angst over, the question of how to define success. Get a bunch of us together and the conversation on this topic can get hot fast. The main bone of contention usually always boils down to the fact that financial success is often viewed with suspicion and seen as a sign that one’s artistic integrity has been compromised. The converse of this is that many individuals who enjoy an artistic leadership position in our field don’t have a proverbial pot to piss in and cannot support themselves on their art.
The question posed for this month’s blog carnival illustrates this concept: “How do you walk the line between creativity and profitability?” Creativity and Profitability are presupposed as mutually exclusive states. It wasn’t always this way in the arts.
We don’t think that we need to walk a fine line between creativity and profitability. We think that running a profitable business making art REQUIRES creativity. And not just in designing and crafting a product. Business is an art and art is a business.
The truth is, no one does art in any form for the money. It is a calling, a way of life. What we all hope for is to be able to express ourselves through our art in our own pure voice. To make the art we want to make. If this coincides with what people want to buy, you have arrived at artistic Nirvanna.
The best thing we have done for our business is to study business principles and stay true to our artistic principles. For us, success is pursuit of an artistic way of life.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gods and Mascots

The subject of “studio mascots” came up the other day. Specifically, what / who is your studio mascot(s) and does he/she/it inspire you? Watch you? Encourage you? Impede your work? We suspect the answer being looked for was something along the lines of “our cat HairBall, who’s cuteness inspires us to create things that benefit all mankind”. Well, things don’t quite work that way at 2Roses studio.

Walk into any artist’s studio and look around. Its always a mess, and embedded in that mess are usually all sorts of odd, intriguing, unsettling objects that beg for an explanation. These objects won’t be the projects or work the artist is working on. Rather, they are the population of totemic and symbolic objects that are imbued with great and small personal meaning for the artist. They are often scattered about the studio like small shrines and invariably have a story attached to them. We refer to these objects collectively as the “Studio Gods”. Here are just a very few of the Studio Gods at 2Roses. On a good day the Studio Gods are with us. On a bad day they demand sacrifices.

Godzilla Torch Lighter

Catbird House

Turtle Tom

Hoofy Doo

Uncle Bob

Shark Foot

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Creative Process:
How we plan and organize for design.

Our Design Process isn’t really an organized plan but rather a collection of spontaneous moments. When we seize one of them, so to speak, we utilize two primary vehicles to get a concept ready for bench creation.

Our Extensive Library
Over the years, we’ve built an extensive, working library with volumes on technique, full color coffee table gaga, botanical editions, illustrated historical references, children’s books, travel destinations, tattoo designs, ancient armament, you name it. The library serves as a reference for detailed research and study. We’ve solved many technical problems and have received much inspiration after a browse through the library. Keeping it orderly is another matter. It's like the Enterprise being overrun with Tribbles. Our books must be breeding and having offspring.

Our Indispensable Sketch Books

We keep sketch books within easy reach at all times. When we say this we mean that we keep sketchbooks everywhere. Our ideas could be in the form of descriptive text, illustrations from a recent museum exhibit, ideas for a new one of a kind piece or a new line concept. We create this output whenever it strikes us – when’s it’s fresh in our minds.

Once we have some ideas that look good on paper, it’s off to the bench. Sometimes a construction paper model is made before any metal is cut and soldered. Sometimes we go for broke and just fabricate. What really helps us is to keep what Corliss calls a “fragment sample” of a completed piece. These are usually a step by step series of components illustrating how something is textured, formed, finished, joined, etc. We do so many things and work with so many materials that we need to have these reminders around to jog the creative

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

20 Things to Kick-Start Creativity

--> 20 Things to kick-start creativity
This months blog project for the Etsymetal Team is to write about 20 things that we use to kick-start creativity. We all run into the wall from time to time. Here are twenty things we do to go over, under, around or through it.
1. Go to a museum.
For us, this is tantamount to sticking our fingers in a light socket. A museum, any museum, of any type be it art, historical, cultural, anthropological, natural history, you name it, will jump-start our batteries faster than almost anything.
2. Change scale/focus.
Go anywhere familiar, a park, neighborhood, shopping mall, ect. Now, look at it by taking in the really big picture, or conversely, look at it in minute detail.
3. Change context.
Go to a magazine stand and purchase 5 magazines that you would NEVER buy. Study them. This also works with TV Roulette. Watch a few shows that you would never watch. Keep your sketchbook in your lap
3. Word Up
Pick a word at random from a book or magazine. Research that word on the Internet. This can provoke themes or images.
4. Change cultures.
If you live near a metropolitan area, go to a market in an ethnic area. Pretend it is a big art supply store.
5. Turn your original idea or sketch upside down.
View it from a different perspective.
6. Restrict your choices.
For your next project, limit yourself to only materials that you have in your studio. A limitation in this sense spurs ideas in areas that you normally would have not considered.
7. Jump in the bushes.
Grab your digital camera and within a 1 mile radius of your studio, take photos – of local foliage (weeds, yard grasses), architecture, landscaping, construction, demolition and repair. When you view the images, look at them in terms of form, balance, texture and connection.
8. Maybe now is the time to explore Pasta.
Do your next project in a medium you’ve always wanted to work with but never got around to it. There’s always a learning curve with a new material. This will expand your expertise and give you a finished piece outside your usual scope of work.
9. Paper or Plastic?
Use construction paper and fit together a 3 dimensional model of a small focal item that can be incorporated into a piece of wearable art. Consider negative spaces, puzzle type fitting, perhaps cold joining as well as soldering. Then create this object in the medium of your choice, It could be metal, cast resin pieces, polymer clay, carved wood, etc.
10. Ask Mother Nature.
Get a handle on the use of color by studying nature. The Internet is your best source for photos. Google images gives an entire encyclopedia of examples of how nature uses color. Try photos of tropical fish to see how colors act when placed next to each other.
11. Google It!
Are you stuck for organic shape ideas? Use the Google images search to find photos of succulents, cacti, seed pods and other botanical examples. You’ll be amazed with what you find.
12. Play with your own poop.
Don’t throw away your mistakes. Keep them in a box for later inspiration. What didn’t work today could very well be the inspiration and a prominent element for a signature piece later on.
13. Clean up.
Clean your bench and sweep the studio floor. These are Zen like tasks and involve a certain amount of calm and concentration. Your mind will temporarily escape the frustration of creative block. Many times when doing this, we will find some material or half made piece tucked away on the bench that will inspire us to get rolling again. And even if you don't, you'll feel so good about a nice clean studio, you will be compelled to get back in there and make a mess.
14. Put those half-baked ideas back in the oven.
We have a box in our studio called “in progress.” These are not mistakes but rather projects that have not told us what they want to be when they grow up. Sometimes we revisit this box when creatively stumped. Often, these old projects get recombined or restarted with a new approach.
15. What would Da Vinci do?
We previously mentioned to go to a museum for inspiration. Many times when viewing paintings or sculpture, the artist depicts jewelry of the period on the subject. We study these examples of jewelry, how they’re worn and what they’re made of. You can really get inspired with some of the examples that you come across.
16. Go Japanese, or Sudanese, or Inuit or...
you get the idea.. Viewing examples of art from other cultures, ie pottery, textiles and adornment exposes you to a different aesthetic in form and balance. This departure may be just the thing to get you started again.
17. Go dumpster diving
America’s trash is an awe-inspiring cornucopia of creativity.
18. Walk backwards
Well, maybe not literally, but it works something like this. We all have familiar neighborhoods or “habitrails” that we walk through, usually in the same direction or pattern each time. Reverse the pattern. Walk the same path you always take, but in the opposite direction. You’ll see all kinds of things that you never saw before.
19. Gather a pile of your favorite things
You know, all those treasures that you have kept from different times of your life. These will be objects that have special meaning and memories for you. As you lay them out before you think about how you would express the meanings in your art.
20. You’ll notice that there is a method in the madness of creative stimulation. Many techniques are based on the concept of “pattern interrupt”. As we fall into repetitive patterns of behavior we tend to apply the same solutions over and over again. Putting yourself in an environment that interrupts your pattern of behavior or thinking will usually allow you to make new connections. So go ahead. Bungee jump off that bridge.