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Archive for June, 2010

I’ve now got the whole new group of ornate masks listed on Etsy. So far they’ve been really well received and are already appearing in a number of treasuries.

Venetian Masquerade at the Indie Bride

What’s really exciting is that my silver and brown mask, Marchesa, is the star of a feature on the Indie Bride! It’s a really cool site that showcases a wide range of non-typical bridal ideas. I haven’t generally made my masks specifically for the bridal market, but considering how many of my buyers are purchasing for weddings, I’ve come to realize that they are a great fit. Now I just have to get the word out more that I will create custom pieces, for these types of occasions! (actually, I just have to get the word out generally about my willingness to do custom)

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I have to ask myself that this morning. Back in the beginning of April, workers came out and dug a giant pit in front of the store. Actually, they dug a series of them all along the road,

construction, June 2010

alternating sides. It was the first stage of work for installation of a sewer system for the Hamlet.  We were thrilled at the timing, well before the start of the season, and they worked in a very efficient and clean manner. It was all supposed to over before the start of June.  Yes well, that didn’t happen. They finished, packed up and then nothing happened for the next two and a half months!! So here we are, it’s the end of June and this is what the front of the store looks like. The trench is 10 feet deep and, if you count the dump trucks, we have seven construction vehicles arrayed along the road fronting our property. I’m here, because I have stuff to work on, but I don’t think I’ll be having many people stop in. I had a delivery from UPS and the poor guy had to walk from the corner! (I think he just wanted to take a little walk, because the weather is just gorgeous today) They tell me my driveway will be open again by the end of today, but looking at the size of the trench right now, I have my doubts. After they finish with us, they will keep moving towards the main intersection, so traffic is going to still be disrupted a bit for hopefully no more than another week or so.

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I first started photographing the masks just to keep some log of what I’d done. It started with one shot, done with actual film, straight on, then three: straight on, and one each side.

ornate Venetian mask, Violette

When I started listing on Etsy I was relieved that they give you five photo slots to work with because, if people couldn’t handle the masks themselves before buying, I wanted them to get as accurate an idea about it as possible. As a result, I now do: straight on to show full, both sides, a detail close-up and a back shot. I also use a fairly neutral grey/brown background so the colour accuracy is good. They may not be glamorous pictures, but they come as close to seeing them in person as I can manage. That being said, I’m still sometimes surprised by how different a piece can look in a photo. “Violette” here, is part of the group of ornate traditional masks I just finished. I had decided to try accenting the bottom edge with these heavily detailed lace falls, in addition to the open-work crown. I’m really happy with how it came out and decided to go with purple feathers and rhinestones to enhance the lushness of it all. In person, it looks gorgeous and rich, on a face the points look very exotic and feminine. I was excited to photograph it but, when I got the pictures up on the monitor, I wasn’t as thrilled. Maybe it’s just me, (I’m really hoping it’s just me!) but something about the way the points look, with the shadows behind, reminds me the mouth of the alien from Predator. (and/or the vampires from Blade) I’ll have to use the shots, because they are technically accurate, and hope people can visualize how different it looks on a face. It was a good reminder of how the camera can, sometimes, lie. Sort of.

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I’ve once again set up a garden of teapots going up the stairs to the workshop. This year I branched out a little and am trying a few new types of things.

teapot garden, June 2010

Miniature roses are one, and I love how they look! (especially in the rose patterned teapots)  I’m not sure how well they will do in the long term. But a couple are setting new buds so it looks like I should have flowers well into July. The veggies we’re trying this year are peppers, red and yellow. I had two more really large pots, along with the coffee pot that hosted an eggplant last year, that looked like they should be able able to hold fruiting plants. So far, we’ve only got one pepper of size set, but it is still very early in the season. I’d be a bit more concerned about the lack of large amounts of vegetative growth on them, except all our peppers are doing the same thing. They are flowering, and fruit is setting, but the plants aren’t getting any bigger. *shrug* This is my first time growing them so I’m not sure what’s normal.

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With the difficulty I’d been having with new mask base making, I’ve had trouble creating any new ornate traditional masks. They need a particular shape of base that wasn’t one of the

silver ornate Venetian mask

styles I had stockpiled. While I love making these types of masks, they are also a ton of work ( and materials) and so I rarely keep more than one or two on hand. While they always make a huge impact on anyone who comes into the store, it actually took me a while to get around to listing any on Etsy, because I had my doubts that photos would do them justice. I was pleasantly surprised at how positive the response was. I then ran into the problem of trying to keep up with the demand! With the base making back on track I just finished a brand new group of them and will trying to get them listed over the next week or so. The rest of the group have gold leafing, but I’ve always loved the combination of silver leaf with the variegated coque feathers (and I’ve never been able to hang on to them when I do shows) so I had to try it in this style!

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When it comes to framing, I’ve run into conflict with artists a couple of times. A few seem to have the idea that anything other than the most minimal of frames will distract the

teacup print, in frame

viewer from the artwork. While I support the idea of plain “gallery” framing when one is doing shows, it’s often not the best way to set off art. When selecting a frame the idea is to enhance the art, so the whole piece is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The idea is to have the entire framed unit be the art, rather than just a piece of art in a protective case. (some artists embrace this idea and actually make and design their own frames for this reason. It’s not the only reason artists frame their work, but it is one of the best reasons for it, in my humble opinion, even if it means less work for me! ) Sometimes that means going with a strong frame or mat choice. This piece is one that I’ve done for the gallery. The piece is a signed original print. The artist had printed it with a strong up-centering of the image on the paper. I decided to leave it, since it works well, and not go with a mat surrounding the image. The colour of the paper is good, clean and unmarked so it was a viable option. (and it was printed so it was square in relation to it’s edges, the lack of which is one of the more common reasons to cover the print paper.) The amount of the room on the edges was exactly enough to give the print room to shine and balance the weight of the frame. The frame is substantial, but the soft colours, that tie back to the art, and the co-ordinating designs mean that is isn’t too much frame for this print. The result the whole piece just pops, without being over-the-top.

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Last year we lost a number of our tomato seedlings to birds. This year I only put big plants up on the balcony and they were fine. The small lemon balm that I put in our

tomato bed, June 2010

hanging pot has been getting mowed down every week or so however. We also lost a pair of tiny tomatoes that were given to us. I came out the morning after putting them in and they had been completely razed! I’m not sure what they’re doing with the leaves since not much can actually eat tomato greens but all the traces were gone. I had been blaming the starlings that nest in the large maple behind the store, but I’ve discovered that they more likely culprits are bronze grackles. Last week, when we actually put in the rest of this years tomatoes, we decided to be proactive about the grackle threat. The whole area now has a netting cage over it and it seems to be working. The seedlings are getting much bigger and we haven’t lost one so far. We’ll keep it up for another couple of weeks at least, and I hope that the intensive planting of tomatoes, leeks, basil, lettuce and peppers will be enough to keep the weeds somewhat under control.

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