Greetings, everyone, and thanks for visiting! Well, I looked up from my jewelers bench and discovered that we're already halfway through June! How the heck did that happen?! Pretty soon it will be time for 4th of July and temperatures rivaling the surface of the sun down here in Texas. Come to think of it, it's pretty roasty-toasty already. It's looking like this summer is going to be a real scorcher, so I think I'm going to stock up on deodorant and orange Gatorade. Anyway, since I have your attention, I may as well tell you what all has been going on here at the House of Karlsson, starting with the most recent development.
I got an e-mail this morning from the Etsy headquarters stating that since they adore their sellers SO MUCH (sarcasm alert), they're going to raise the transaction fees to 5%, plus charging a transaction fee for shipping, plus the commission they already get, which is significant. They're also going to offer *ahem* "premium subscription services* to better serve the seller community. I don't know about you, but to me this sounds like a thinly veiled threat to pay up or have your listings buried deeper within the bowels of the Etsy search engine than they are already. Since I am not a big fan of extortion, I have decided not to update my Etsy shop any more, and use it to drive traffic to my website shop instead. I never get much traffic on Etsy in the first place, since the algorithm they have is so messed up, so I don't think I'm going to be missing out on much, to be quite honest. So, if you're thinking of buying from me, please do it through my website shop and not Etsy. I'd really appreciate it.
Now, I can hear some of you argue "but Heather, what about galleries? Don't they charge a hefty commission as well? More so than Etsy?" Yes. Absolutely. The difference between Etsy and galleries, however, is that a gallery is a brick-and-mortar establishment. The commission an artist pays a gallery from a sale goes towards the gallery's overhead. This overhead includes everything from electricity, insurance, and salary for employees working there to advertising and curating your work. A gallery puts significantly more effort into selling an artist's work than Etsy does, therefore, they deserve to be paid more commission. Also, a gallery doesn't sell cheap knock-offs or imports being sold as "one-of-a-kind" or "handmade", which is what Etsy does. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with selling on Etsy. There are people out there who do very well on that platform. I just don't think it's worth my while anymore. End of rant.
In other news, I'm revamping the Ritornello collection. This iteration is going to be strictly handmade. The design process has been to take the sculptural elements of musical instruments (in this particular case, I'm using the oboe as inspiration) and incorporate them into a solid silver piece instead of using the actual musical instrument keys. I mean, I'll still make jewelry from the actual instrument keys, but in this way I can continue to grow as an artist and flex my creative muscle and learn and perfect new techniques along the way. Here are the works in progress (I'll do a detailed blog about the process at a later date):
In case you were curious, the process I'm using to form the key cups isn't the same as the actual manufacturing process in musical instrument factories. That involves a lathe and large diameter brass or nickel stock. They cut out a recess to fit the pad into from the solid piece of metal for strength purposes. My key cup and arm setup has four parts to braze. Musical instrument key parts have only two. That means only two weak points when the part is under stress. Since the key cup and arm that I'm making isn't going to be used on a musical instrument, those high levels of stress don't come into play. Also, buying silver stock that large and chucking it into a lathe is an expensive proposition, so I'm going to continue doing it the way I've engineered it. The end result is the same, which is all I'm really after. For me, it's also a lot quicker, because it takes me FOREVER to get my lathe set up the way I like it. (I swear, those shop gnomes in my garage wreak havoc on all my gears and settings, and it is super annoying.)
In addition to making these design changes in the Ritornello collection, I've also been experimenting with doming copper and drawing on it. Drawing on copper is a lot of fun, and it doesn't take long to get the hang of it. Below are two domed pieces I worked on. One is just a simple dome that I engraved with a battery operated graver. The other is a St. Felicia medallion (you young folks should understand what I'm talking about, heh heh...). You can use a lot of wild colors, and blending them is similar to what water color artists do with water color paints, or so I am told. My last experience with water colors was probably in kindergarten, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.
Since I was on a roll with the disc cutter, I also made this domed piece that resembled some sort of sunflower medieval Viking Ren-faire shield thingy. I think it's pretty nifty. It was an interesting challenge in that I had to dome the copper after I put the hammered texture in, and that flattened out the texture. I think the next time I do this, I will really hammer the living daylights out of the metal before doming it. If I had a stake, I could hammer it AFTER doming, but I'm not ready to make that kind of investment quite yet. Those suckers are expensive! At any rate, here it is in all its glory:
I have a bunch more I want to share, but I imagine that if you've made it this far, you're probably all blogged out and are about to head out to the pool or something. Here instead are my two kitties being very disappointed in everyone. Once again, thanks for stopping by, and tune in next time for my further adventures!