Creative Input By Liz

A Jingle Bash wrap and a bit of a treat

Big thank you hearts to everyone who made Jingle Bash 2013 a success. We're looking at you, volunteers, sponsors, photographers, vendors and savvy shoppers. We wanted to share a few of our favorite photos from the day. And we want to thank you, dear reader, for your continued support of independent artists and makers. 

A few of our member shops have special coupon codes for you! Check out these Etsy Dallas team shops and save. 

MariForssell: Use code ETSYDALLAS20 to save 20 percent through March 31, 2014.

FreckledChicken: Use code PEEP2014 to save 20 percent through March 31, 2014.

Regal Cottage: Use code WONDERSOFWONDERS to save 20 percent through January 31, 2014.

Creative Input by Liz: Use code Creative2014 to save 20 percent through March 30, 2014.

The Pig & The Peacock: Use code ETSYDALLAS20 to save 20 percent through March 31, 2014.

MadeByRori: Use code JINGLENEWYEAR to save $2.14 through March 31, 2014.

Artist profile: The Kessler Craftsman

Larry Pile, The Kessler Craftsman, has exercised a lot of different creative muscles to hit upon his niche in fused glass and woodworking.  He is a full-time artist with a straightforward approach to remaining self-supporting by producing quality work at reasonable prices. 

He recently took part in a Q&A session with Liz Day.

Liz: When did you start creating? 
Larry: I’ve been creative all my life. First musically. Then painting. Then photography. Then music again. Then furniture, stained glass and, of late, fused glass and sterling silver.

Liz: What brought you to glass and furniture making? 
Larry: I took a stained glass class so as to build windows for my 1926 Tudor home.  It blossomed from there. I needed frames for my stained glass pieces and so bought some small woodworking tools. Then I tried to make a piece of furniture. First a pair of crude Adirondack chairs, which I still have and still love, and then a fine Mission-style sofa table, which I sold for $600 at my very first art show of all time.

Liz: When did you start calling yourself an artist? 
Larry: Last week? Who knows? Calling oneself an artist takes courage and confidence; both of which have evolved over time.

Liz: Was it a defining moment? 
Larry: My defining moment was during an interview with a newspaper reporter, in advance of ArtFest, 2009 or 2010. She asked me about my evolving fused glass work and I realized at that very moment that I’d moved from stained-glass-style geometric pieces with defined shaped to a much more free-form, interpretive, evocative and courageous style – something that happened so slowly that even I didn’t see it!

Liz: What would you tell an artist starting out? 
Larry: Listen to your inner voice. Don’t underprice your work. Don’t think you can’t be an artist until you do it full time and make a living at it. I know very, very few artists who make their sole living (and without support from a spouse, etc) at art. It’s always been that way!

Liz: A discouraged artist? 
Larry: Get objective advice from people who will tell you the truth. Listen to that advice and heed it. If you thoroughly enjoy your work but it won’t sell, try to cease defining yourself by sales. Many successful, starving artists didn’t sell well during their lifetime. However you define yourself as an artist, YOU are responsible for pulling yourself out of discouragement. Don’t expect anyone else to do this for you. In fact, no one else can do this for you. This is true for all aspects of life.

Liz: What is your best marketing advice?
Larry: Simple: Market your work. Most folks love to create, but they don’t like to market. Figure out how you’re going to market and do it more than is comfortable. Stretch your boundaries in marketing. Be okay with “no thanks.” Ask gallery owners, shop owners, other successful Etsy sellers what works for selling from their perspective. And then try it. If your work is decent and fairly priced, if it is not selling, you’re not marketing it the right way. If you ever expect to sell to galleries, gift shops, etc, you have to price ALL of your work so that you can give wholesale (30-50 percent discounts) on your work. You can’t raise the price just for gift shop/galleries. Owners watch for that and will not work with you if you do this. This comes down to valuing and measuring your time, materials and, ultimately, your worth.

Daily Discoveries: accessorize with handmade

Spring has sprung! It's about time to pull out the skirts and bermuda shorts, so get ready to spruce up your outfits with these super tempting jewelry picks from our Etsy Dallas Spring Bash artists!

1. Anodized Aluminum Bracelet by Creative Input by Liz
2. Foxy Fox Pendant by Maggie May I
3. Ring by ElizaEpstein  
4. Fused Glass Bracelet by Kessler Craftsman  
5. Geometric Chevron Cuff by Susan Renee Designs  
6. Blossom Bracelet by Black Moth Studio
7. Brambling Vines Necklace by Jennie Claire  
8. Woodgrain Ring by f. is for frank  
9. Gears Necklace by Freeforged Jewelry  

(Discoveries by Emily of Fuzzy Muffins.)  

Curbside crawls that inspire

Earth Month is just days away, and Liz of Creative Input By Liz is sharing a little bit of her upcycling inspiration.

Reduce, recycle, reuse. I hear these words a great deal, maybe because I am totally immersed in the movement. I started recycling when I would have to lug a trunkful to any place that recycled. Luckily, today we have curbside pick-up. Speaking of curbsides, I do a curbside crawl on trash days looking for items people consider disposable. My son’s solid wood dresser is from one of my hunts. If I can’t use it, I donate it. 

This habit of hunting for recyclables or items to repurpose has transferred to my art. My favorite sources are estate sales, resale stores, Etsy, and eBay. I also gather inspiration from my search. I consider my ventures to be of divine providence since I have no idea what I will find that will spark my imagination. 

I look for metals in silver-plated trays, copper, brass, and colorful tins. I haven’t stumbled upon anyone with well-priced sterling but I keep my hopes up. I cut up these metal finds to create upcycled jewelry. I also search for pre-vinyl records, books, broken jewelry, belts, vintage wallpaper, and anything I can cut up, use for texture, put in resin or use as a tool.

The photo above is of a piece made from a cookie tin with some great designs and colors. The circular bracelet below was made from a belt and what used to be a copper vase. The cross piece is riveted onto a portion of a brass planter.

Jacky Sylvie with Hi Fi Jewelry brings her love of music to the world of upcycling with her fantastic necklace made from vinyl records. The records I use come from the early 1900s, before vinyl, and are much thicker. I picked up a batch from an estate sale thinking they were worth a bundle. No such luck. Somehow I decided to soften them in the oven and cut them with cookie cutters to create pendants. The one below is my favorite.

The metals I scour for are anything from trays and vases to brass planters. There are some silver plated pieces that are plated onto copper. I particularly remember large compote I found with a beautiful bird and flower design. I raced home to cut it while preserving the design. It will make a beautiful necklace for the Etsy Dallas Spring Bash in April.

From Chaos to Creative

It’s time for a peek inside the studio with Liz of Creative Input By Liz.

I get distracted easily, an understatement to be sure.  With my creative endeavors strewn all over 2000+ square feet, two children, three dogs and a husband, my wheels were spinning and I was frustrated ‘cause I couldn’t settle down to work without looking for something or tripping over a mammal from my household.  If I was in the bedroom working, inevitably I would need a thingy in the office on the opposite side of the house.  Then I would forget what the heck I was looking for by the time I arrived in the office.  Ugh.

Enter my friend, neighbor, and fellow jewelry artist, Jean.  I will call her simply, goddess of get-it-done.  She offered to help me make a studio in the garage.  I thought she was crazy.  She is just one of those people who enjoy helping the overwhelmed people do the undoable.  So, when she arrived with her get-it-done crown on and her words were, “There are only two things that should happen in a bedroom.”  I guessed correctly that making jewelry wasn’t one of those two. We got buzzy.

I was already parking my car outside the garage so I could store my curbside “treasures” that I was going to restore/repurpose into wonderful objects of beauty and awe.  Needless to say, the garage was full and no projects were completed. The first step was to create the creative space. Since I already had my big-girl pants on, I loaded up my mom van and gave the treasures to charity.  On the way home, I felt lighter; a van load lighter.  Space created, check.  
The kiln and a work table were already in the garage.  Everything else, everything, was taken from all over the house.  After a solid eight hours, Jean left me with the bones of my new studio and a sense of accomplishment. I wouldn't say all my stuff is arranged, but every day, I organize. Every day I find something I was looking for and/or find two of what I was looking for a month ago. Every day I have a place to go that is mine. 

Part of making the studio a place for designing, is having color, inspiring books, pictures, words, and meaningful tchotchkes around me. 

Walter Soza has a print called "Barcelona, Espana" that would hit the color aspect. I enjoy the way the colors overlap each other.

And, under my inspiring words category I would love to have the print, "Don't put off being creative" by Brandon Griswold of Honeycomb Print Shop. My point is to construct a space that is a reflection of me, for my spirit. Thursday, my mission was to get a TV in the garage so I wouldn’t feel like I was missing my shows, mainly Dallas Stars hockey.  I got a ginormous TV for cheap from CCA and picked up a set-top box.  Mission accomplished. The kids have watched more on the TV than I have, but now I am not missing anything. My studio is perfect for me.

Today, I sit at my desk in my studio typing this post.  I have music on, a dog by my feet, and my coffee cup close.  I am sure this is Heaven for me.  Check back in the summer, I may be singing a different tune.