Monday, October 18, 2010

lulubugjewelry: he(art) and mind

Lulubug’s jewelry shop on Etsy has 3568 sales in under 2 1/2 years. Her median price point is $71. She demonstrates how a true studio artisan succeeds on Etsy, and flies in the face of many of those old long standing myths that success means selling lots of small quickly assembled components. I interviewed Sue to find out how her uniquely forged path has unfolded, with the intention that we can learn from this talented artisan and businesswoman.

With 1,642,653 jewelry listings on Etsy, Sue’s work stands out because she has learned unusual techniques:

I currently work in PMC (precious metal clay) which is a relatively new material composed of silver particles in a clay binder, which you form and then fire in a kiln. The clay burns off, the particles fuse and you end up with a .999 silver object.

I had heard about PMC and always wanted to try it, so when I saw a workshop being offered nearby in 2007 I signed up for it. Much like the first jewelry classes I took, I felt like I had found my medium, and within a couple of months had set up a little studio in my living room.

She concentrates on new designs  rather than promotion of her shop, and tracks to see which ideas are marketable:


Q: How do you promote your Etsy shop?
I'm not much of a self promoter. I post most of my new designs on my Facebook fan page, I have a very neglected blog, I read but rarely post in the Etsy forums, and I'm always thinking that I should be making more treasuries than I do. About the only thing I really do consistently is renew items, usually at least 10 a day plus relisting sold items.


What I do focus on is my product development. Selling on Etsy gives you feedback on new ideas much more quickly than traditional brick and mortar sales. Using Craftcult I can see which items get viewed the most and draw people into my shop, as well as which things may not get the most views but sell consistently. I keep an eye on Etsy trends, and when one speaks to me I'll use it as inspiration for new pieces, but I don't follow all of them. Hence some new fox pieces, but no mustaches! The one thing that is certain is you NEVER can predict what will sell well. When I come up with a whole new concept, I will make 4-6 new designs and watch them closely. If they get a lot of views or sell quickly, I'll build on the concept and add more designs. If neither happens, I let the idea go, even if I love it and think it's great. This way I build up a product line of successful sellers, but I keep adding new ideas to the mix. I read the Etsy forums very regularly, and I rarely hear anyone say to work on changing your products if sales are down. For me this is the first thing to do. I've learned not to take it personally when the design I think will sell like hotcakes is a total dud! There really is no telling what is going to sell well, so I just put it out there and watch what happens, and base future designs on that information.

Sue’s response to this question reveals a great deal:

Q: Do you think that artists are born, or made?
Both! I think we all have creativity inside us, it's just a matter of finding the best medium in which to express it. Some artists will be better than others, but I think anyone who has the desire can learn the techniques and create something meaningful.

She respects the value of hard work and education while still following the call of her inner creative beacon.

Bravo, Sue of lulugjewelry! I appreciate your time in sharing this and trust that other creatives will, too.

Wishing you all a successful journey today!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


In the studio yesterday, Marci told me that she was turning her cell phone off more often. She was weary of the drama. She was happy glazing; excited about a new design. This, above all, I have wanted to impart to my teen daughter.

After some early success in the fine art world in my 20’s , I began making pottery. Fine art is so gravely serious. Works of light and joy were, at the time, viewed as useless fluff, and perhaps they still are. I was drawn to the silent thoughtless world of clay where you can be moved to an almost holy place just by how beautiful something is.

Today I ran across this quote. It is from the novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

“she knew that she had become a burden to him: she took things too seriously, turning everything into a tragedy, and failed to grasp the lightness and amusing insignificance of physical love. how she wished she could learn lightness!”

I suddenly wanted to see lightness everywhere, to go outside and capture with my camera the light shining through leaves. To feel that lightness of being is to be transparent, thin of  negativity and judgment, and allow the light of Creation to shine through.

I’m going to do this more often. it feels good.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Imagine. Dare. Dream. Make it.

Owl House Ornament

“When the soul wishes to experience something, she throws an image of the experience out before her and enters into her own image.’ –Meister Eckhart
When I stare at the chalky grayness of clay,  I use my mind’s eye to give it color. Unlike paint, glaze contains little resemblance to the final fired color, so I have trained myself through the years, to mentally try on my various glazes until I visualize the ones I want. I also choose, first in my imagination, the little embellishments like the wire twig on my Owl House ornament.
This ability to dream, to see in my mind’s eye, to explore what might be, to give birth to possibility, is a skill that serves me well in my art and in my life.
Owl House began with this feeling that this holiday season will be full of joy, magic, and everyday blessings. I shut my eyes and immersed myself in that feeling, and the image of the little owl perched in it’s snug home, staring with curiosity, emerged.