Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Our favorites list

We wanted to do our post early and keep it short this week because Hillary is going to be out of town starting Thursday so that she can participate in the Panoply Choreography Competition in Huntsville, AL. This week we're going to post a few of our ETSY favorites.

This Ilk - Handmade lace jewelry. It's like nothing we've ever seen before. It's elegant and bold and, best of all, lightweight no matter how large or dangly the jewelry is.

Rocket Science Style - Vegan friendly wallets made of vinyl and pretty handmade batiked fabric. Hillary has bought some custom pieces from here and she never shuts up about them.

Madelaine - Fine art photography and digital art. We like it because we are partial to art containing dancers, art with dark themes, and art that's a little off the norm and Madelaine's art is definitely all three.

Creamy Pear - How can you not love jewelry and clothing made to look like cupcakes, cookies and ice cream?

LiDDesigns - Great hair accessories and hats including some with butterflies. Hillary would never allow this one to be left off the list.

Brilliant Batik by Zyhan - Beautiful hand painted and batiked scarves with a great retro feel.

Hope you enjoy the list! See you next weekend!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The things we do for art

Hillary Wanted to share some thoughts she had while working on a project recently:

I looked down at my feet and the chain between my toes and took a moment to consider what I was doing. I had a chain between my toes to test the comfort level for a potential project. As I removed the chain and wiped it with an anti-bacterial wipe, I shook my head and said, "the things I do for art" . I have stuck a chain in between my toes, soaked a metal turtle in water (to test how well it would hold up), lost sleep, completed a complex necklace in 10 days, created a dance from start to performance in 3 weeks, practically fallen on my head from a piano bench, sat in the sun for hours, changed backstage in 3 numbers, gone into a diary queen and not gotten ice cream (to sing), wire wrapped a necklace (my first wire wrapped piece, I might add) on the spot at a craft show, and drawn dance steps out of a hat, to list a few. Artists do some bizarre things to arrive at the result they want, and I know I always feel a little crazy when I do it, but when it works out, it makes the whole experience that much more satisfying.

Amanda Palmer, on a whim, bought a Ukulele (NSFW link) just to see if she could learn a few songs, and now plays the three songs she knows during her regular shows to a wildly excited audience. She shows up at performances with musicians who don't typically fit her genre, plays shows with them, has a blast, and usually gains more fans in the process. If that's not crazy enough for you, I don't know if she knows the last time she had eyebrows. Honestly, she is the epitome of "crazy creativity" and both her solo performances and The Dresden Dolls shows are constantly packed. She says she never gets tired of he love she gets from fans. She seems to be really happy every time one of her off the wall ideas works, like asking fans to twitter requests at her shows or letting just about anyone who has an idea perform (possibly NSFW) in some way at the Dresden Dolls shows.

Tilly and the Wall is a band that has a Tap dancer for a percussionist. I'm a tap dancer, I love music and I even sing, and I never would have thought of this one--honestly, it's one of the more bizarre Ideas I've ever heard. Crazy ideas and all, this band is well loved, and even was featured on sesame street recently. In a feature article on Venus Zine, the percussionist Jamie Pressnall talks about how it took 5 or 6 hours to set up mics each time they wanted to create a different sound. Aside from all that, what Jamie does is a feat of rhythm, strength and stamina. As I said, I am dancer, but I could not dance for the length of an entire rock show, and I could not flawlessly perform the same precise rhythms night after night. What she does is really hard, and I would definitely call it crazy, but she does it for the love of her art.

So the next time I find myself upside down, or with chains between my toes, or glitter on my face, I will think back on these guys and on my experiences and remember: The things I do for art are always worth it (even if they do get me strange looks from my family).

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Behind the scenes: Photography

There's a lot that goes into running a jewelry business, and today we wanted to give you a little behind the scenes look at one of the things we enjoy the most, other than jewelry making. We love the process of photographing jewelry because, like making jewelry, it requires creativity and ingenuity, and, like jewelry, it has its challenges and triumphs.
When we first started our website, we were taking photos with a fujifilm finepix (this was several years ago) in standard indoor lighting on a counter, or a counter covered with a t-shirt. The photos were very plain and utilitarian. In the pictures below, you can see the jewelry fairly clearly, but not in great detail, and it doesn't "jump out and grab you" like the jewelry would in person.

The next change in our photo setup was to take pictures with a newer camera (a canon powershot a-510) in a completely dark room with the flash on. The resulting photos were better, but, like the one below, looked washed out and tended to have noticeable "hot spots".

About this time, we found a great forum of fellow jewelry artists who suggested creating a studio or lightbox. We thought this would probably be more money and more trouble than it was worth but a few of the artists said that the $5 jewelry studio setup actually worked quite well.

As a result, we decided to take on the challenge of creating a light box. It's simple enough--it's just a clear rummbermaid/sterilite/tupperware style box that you take outside in the sunlight. We often weren't able to take pictures during the day, and room lighting wasn't doing enough, so on someone's suggestion, we got clip on aluminum lamps (available at any hardware store), and 100 watt "natural light" bulbs.

At first we had problems with this setup because the light would flow in over the top of the box and we ended up with a lot of pictures like this:

Thanks again to our forum friends, we found this information filled video on photographing jewelry. Unfortunately, the tutorial suggested things involving power tools that we did not have. So, Hillary went to a local wal-mart to see if we could somehow adapt the ideas in the tutorial to our situation. As luck would have it, Sterlite was, at the time, making a container with a hole in the lid. The whole point of the power tools in the tutorial was to make a container with a hole in the top, so the lid was perfect for our purposes.

Once we used the box above, we started getting photos like this:

You'll notice these are much clearer, detailed and brighter, but you might also notice some unevenness in the lighting, especially in the first picture. This was because clipping the lights to the table only lit the pictures from the bottom and sides. It took us a long time to figure out this issue but last month we added one more thing to the set up: A wine rack. Hillary only ever uses a wine rack for about 3 months out of the year during the winter holidays, so she thought we could put it to better use during the rest of the year.

Here are some photos we recently took with this setup (note that the background fabric is different in these than in the others on this page). In case you were wondering, we now have a canon powershot a-590.

Clipping one light on the the top of the wine rack and one on the table makes the appearance of these photos much more even and much less shadowy. We're pretty happy with the setup now. The only foreseeable change would involve the Easter Bunny bringing us a camera or two.

P.S.: look for the last piece to be listed on our etsy this weekend.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Our Piece for arty party

Our necklace for Arty Party is finished and in it's new temporary home in Jamie Whitehurst's office! We wanted to show you what the finished piece looks like.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gearing up for Arty Party

In a previous post, we mentioned donating a piece to Arty Party, a fundraiser for a local AIDS service organization. Today we wanted to give out more details about arty party and show you pictures of our completed piece!

Every May, Birmingham AIDS Outreach hosts "Arty Party", a silent and live art auction benefiting local the agency. BAO provides services for HIV positive people including food pantry, clothing closet, and medication assistance. BAO also has three prevention and education staff who do everything from speaking at high schools, to testing in bars, to working with prisoners, and more. The money raised from "Arty Party" helps go to these services that support HIV positive people and improve public health.

Birmingham AIDS outreach is currently accepting donations of art of all types for the auction.
To donate art or arrange a pick up, contact Jamie at 322-4197 or jamie@birminghamaidsoutreach.org. Birmingham AIDS Outreach is a non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible, and the agency is able to provide you with the necessary form for your taxes.

Happy Hippy Jewelry , and our sister site, Artful Unity, will both be donating jewelry for the auction and we hope you will join us in supporting this agency, either by attending or donating.