Friday, October 29, 2010

Late in November

I t was early in November, as I remember when I was invited to have work in the galleries Christmas show. Don't ya know? I was pleased and excited to be included. I was making my mark on the world I concluded. All be it a small mark, I call it my hallmark, but people would come to review it. If I hurried my works were prejuried. with no preinspection, there's no fear of rejection. So with a smile, I said that I'd do it. You can imagine my composure as I read the disclosure, of the rules. Five works, in my case in copper, in their possession tomorrow, no problem thinks me. The gallery charges a forty percent fee! I regain my composure and consider the exposure. I must pick up the unsold  next year, for sure. Oh happy day, and oh by the way, I'll get my check on Valentines Day! I almost said screw it, but I said that I'd do it.and I am a man of my word .So in my frustration, I bookmarked the occasion, They were in  heaven, when I sent them seven. Oh the things that we do. It's been years ago, but again I'll forgo my membership in this years Christmas show. Oh what the heck I might cash the check. It's from a Gallery. ya know!.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

new work

 Forms start to come together
A couple of fold formed trays
 Seven Fold
Seven Fold  

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The materials we use.

I just did the math on the purchase of a rather interesting material. I do not work in this material. I have many friends that do. Here's a quote I found this morning from a friend on Face Book.
One mystery solved: PMC Pro, which will apparently be available next week, is 10% copper. At WLW, the launch price for a 25-g pack is $56. Looking forward to hearing what folks have to say about this metal clay.
Ok That means that the actual silver in this material is sold to the customer at a rate of $ 71.00 per troy ounce fine silver. The actual trading price of fine silver today is $23.50.   In other words the cost this material is almost 3 times the value of the metal.
I work in the metal using direct metal techniques.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Drill bit marketing

     If  you go out into the world and attempt to sell drill bits using the traditional approach, you will starve. The traditional, acceptable, method of marketing drill bits is to display them where people can see them and wait until people someone comes along, makes their selection and final purchase. In other words the marketing approach of drill bits is no marketing at all. Even worse are the places that keep their drill bits out of sight and only available to customers with insider information. In other words the educated customer has to ask for a specific item to purchase it. Selling lots of drill bits is about a different kind of thinking than the traditional supply company uses.
    Selling lots of drill bits is more about teaching, counseling and providing solutions to everyday problems. This gets to be kind of fun because almost no one wants to be a salesman. Most people believe they can't sell anything. They are probably right. However these same people can really get into teaching, counseling people and providing solutions to real problems. Go figure. I think the confusion arises from the difference between clerks and sales people.
      The ability to sell a significant quantity of drill bits requires a shift in thinking. Selling drill bits is about holes, all kinds of holes in a variety of different materials. Provide the world with the ability to make clean holes of differing sizes, in a variety of materials, in a clean and efficient manner and you have some thing the world will be very interested in. Holes are necessary. Holes were and are one of the keys to civilization. A wheel isn't a wheel until you can put it on an axle. That action requires a hole! Civilization advances once stones get holes in them and man no longer has to attempt to tie a rock to a handle to make a hammer. The hammer making materials change over the years. The necessity of being able to make holes increases in demand and complexity. This isn't rocket science or brain surgery, though neither rocket scientist or brain surgeon could get very far without holes. Holes are very special things. Necessary, useful and in high demand.
      Do you know there is demand for square holes? There are machines and drill bits that produce them? These square holes are 1/2 of the concept of mortise and tendon joints in wood working. There is also demand for holes in unusual materials, beyond but not excluding wood, plastics and metal. Concrete, stone and glass present their own challenges. Scale also influences hole making  Very large holes require different tools than very small holes. Ice augers can't drill pearls. There is another element to hole making to consider.
Let's consider standardization. Holes can be of variable sizes that's significant. But suppose I desire to have  quantity of holes that are consistent in size. Interchangeable, standardized,  uniform holes are very useful.
     Holes can also be self filling. Imagine a tool that becomes a fastener as well as making it's own hole, The self tapping sheet metal screw is an example.  Holes can be a deep subject, well? Holes can go all the way through things but some would be useless if they did, oil wells. Sorry for the puns.
    Selling a lot of drill bits is about providing people with the ability to make holes where they want them. Empowering the people is a noble thing to be doing.
     Ok So just how is this relating to my selling my stuff?.  First of all don't let your product be represented by clerks. They don't sell many drill bits. They don't know the world needs holes.
Selling drill bits-selling your art work equals figure out what real need your product answers. That's the whole of it

Friday, October 15, 2010

But I hate typing

     I hated typing class in junior high school. Primarily the problem was and still is I like to watch what my hands are doing. We were expected to have our eyes on the thing we were copying and not look at our hands. Our progress was measured by speed and accuracy. Here's what happened.  Words were defined as any five characters correctly placed on the paper. When time was applied  to the the equation and you could arrive at words per minute rate. If you "misspelled" a word it was counted against your wpm. It became possible to type at negative words per minute rate. I usually typed at a negative thirty words per minute. I was getting faster, as time progressed, some times I could get the rate up to negative 35. wpm. One day the instructor in her wisdom decided we would be graded on our improvement. The ones showing the most improvement would get the best grade. Light bulbs came on. I typed one word accurately in that minute test. To go from negative 35 wpm to one word per minute is a large percentage improvement! Boy was the teacher POed about that one.  The principal agreed with me.
     Bob on the other hand, a class mate of mine and still a close friend, only showed a dismal improvement of five words from his rate of 35 wpm to 40.  Bob would go on to greater things. His typing would prove to be an important skill. Bob owned a printing company and had ghost written a couple of books before he took the job as a Navy reserve recruiter. He was assigned to a base in the middle of Iowa. I always found that to be somewhat humorous. I'd frequently ask him where his ship was. He never found that amusing. I think because not having a ship was part of the problem. Bob started recruiting sailors by doing about the only thing he could do to increase awareness.  He started writing. He wrote articles of all kinds. about being in the Navy. Then he started submitting the articles to newspapers and magazines. The articles got printed and taken seriously by professionals of all kinds. Dentists and doctors found his message useful as they considered their careers.
     Bob explained it to me this way. People in the news industry have a serious problem. They continually face a deadline. They have a limited amount of time to produce a quality product. When he presented a well written article to them he was making their daily job a bunch easier. They love it. Bob's career blossomed.
    Bob had the almost unlimited ad budget of the Navy Reserve behind him yet the articles he was writing were proving to be effective.  Toward the end of his career he had many people under his command all of them could type better than him.  I will continue to salute his uncommon thinking.  

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The care and handeling of the media

My father was a carpenter in the Air Force during WW 2. He was stationed in Peterborough, England. It's there that he met my mother. Dad built barracks mostly during the time period. Dad never got over building things. Even though his career was built on selling tools and supplies to farmers. Dad built things ie, houses, barns, garages bedrooms and kitchens. There were no do it yourself centers, there were lumber yards. There was no do-it-yourself movement. Being the kid of a man with the ability to do it meant he would do it himself. That really meant the kid would help.   I learned to do those things, mostly out of self defense. It should come as no surprise that by the age of three his grandchild would have  a hammer collection. That kid now has an MFA in metalsmithing, no surprise.
     Most Do It Yourself centers have really become a strong argument for the concept of hiring a professional. I have a contractors hat that I wear in the DIY center, mostly to get the people that have no clue, to get out of my way.  
     "I design and make custom gold and silver wedding bands"  was the classified ad I ran weekly in the newspaper my last three years of college.(I wrote it myself) That single ad was my total advertising and media exposure during the time period. There was an amazing thing that happened at the end of the time period. The newspaper people began to know me, they became customers. They gave me a graduation gift. They gave me a double truck story about my little business. The article was the bridal edition of the paper that year. It's funny how it all came about.
     Placing my ad became a weekly thing to do. In part because I had things to deliver you my customers there and because there might be new thing to make. It was no surprise when the editor of the paper called me into his office. on one of those trips. I built pieces for his wife. This time he had something to present to me. His paper was going to do a story about me. I had to do some things in preparation. I had to write the story and plan the photo shoot. They weren't going to use the story I would write. Their writers would do that and their staff photographer would actually do the shoot. I had to be prepared for the interview. Here's an interesting side bar. The pieces I built for the people at the newspaper more than paid for the ad I placed with them! Because I was prepaying months ahead I got a great rate for my ad.
   My professor had the two full page article on the door to his office the day it came out, The head of the art department had it on his window. All my professor had to say to me that morning was, "Brad you can't buy advertising like that."   More coming on this topic.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's a trebuchet kind of thing

Let me explain a gorilla marketing approach to getting some exposure. The example begins with the building or making of a trebuchet. Trebuchets were siege weapons used to tear down the walls of castles. They are similar to catapults except they add a sling to increase the throwing ability. I've built several of them over the years. The last one was built using 2x6s for the frame and man hole covers for the weights. This was a rather large project. We built it it's own trailer. The treb could throw stuff. bowling balls, pumpkins, type writers or bags of flour. The local news paper thought it news worthy that I would build a trebuchet in my back yard. Renaissance
Faires and pumpkin patch events paid us to bring the Treb to their events. Local news papers found . pumpkin chucking to be news worthy.  People loved seeing it fire. People would pay to see it chuck their stuff. Small computer monitors, etc. People purchased small trebuchets from us as well as plans for larger ones.
    Do you see a difference between setting up your stuff at the local craft show with a hundred other people to gain exposure and getting paid to show people your wonderful interactive kinetic sculpture. One of those two approaches is going to get your picture in the paper = real exposure.
    Sounds pretty simple doesn't it. Just make something real cool and let people see it. Here's the trick. It's not a big secret. But it's the part that most makers don't do.  Write your own press release. Take pictures
   Tomorrow I'm going to write about the care and handling of the media.   

Monday, October 11, 2010

Expose yourself

     I love this time of year. The kids in the neighborhood are back in school. They are off the streets. I can't hear then complaining of nothing to do. They seem to have a sense of purpose, things to do, places to go. The soccer moms are out in full force. There are high school football games and bands playing marching tunes. It's the Sousa time of the year! I was raised a Midwesterner so sound to the rustling leaves beneath my feet is a pleasant memory. Our Florida home doesn't see the foliage change color. We are however beginning to see the snow birds arrive. But the best thing of all are the festivals. My up north days this time of the year had pumpkin patches, corn mazes and hay rides.  Harvest festivals and great big picnic type parties fill the weekends.
    My role as one of those back stage makers of stuff people was often to be part of the group that organized these kinds of events. Quite often these events were things I did to expose myself, or my work to a larger number of people. Artists spent time exposing themselves. To hear some people tell it we do quite a few events for the exposure. Exposure is very different from cash flow.
    It came as no surprise as I walked a local side walk craft show this weekend to find out  most of the vendors at this two day event were doing the show for exposure. It was a nice show with some very nice product for sale by some very good people, It is a juried show. What we call a white tent affair here.  What did surprise me, or rather made me smile was the comment from one of the jewelers. What she said was. She does this show every year. It's a time when she gets together with other crafts people and  a few established customers. She's been doing this show for the exposure for several years.  She doesn't care if she breaks even at the event. Her sales in her Esty shop have been real good, her website is seeing increasing traffic, her search engine optimization is working and the street team marketing is kicking in. She was quick to give people her card with her web site on it and an invite to her newsletter.
    I'm going to write more about the exposure issue this week.  I'm gong to type about trebuchets tomorrow.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Butchers, bakers and candlestick makers

A few of the hundred earrings I've been working on. all copper with a little bit of enamel.
The industrial revolution brought on the comparison of the monkey  grinder and the unseen maker. The time represented a shift from people being mostly involved in farming or related fields to being somehow connected to manufacturing. There was resistance to the change of the time period. There was probably resistance from people moving from being mostly hunter-gathers to domesticating animals and harvesting seed. There is always resistance to change. During the time of agriculture if you wanted something you either made it yourself, churning butter to making nails on your anvil or you found a member of your community a specialist, the butcher, baker or candle stick maker. to do it for you. Most people were makers of something. Chairs, tables, chimneys, cups, saddles, rope, wheels, clothing, blankets, were all things people made within a community. Today the making of those things is often a forgotten craft.
    We've made another change, some say. The times might be described as the information age. I'm not sure I entirely buy the concept but I have noticed there are very few farmers. I have trouble finding things made here. Manufacturing moved.

    If  Twitter and Facebook are the best  the information age has to offer, we are in serious trouble!  Maybe Google has the right idea? I can remember that the two biggest sources of information I ever got excited about were the Encyclopedia Britannica and National Geographic Magazine. Maybe forums will fill our desire for information, except they keep answering the same questions. No one ever looks through archives. I suspect the information age will be a time of discovering community again. We'll discover our a larger group of people. Makers of things will continue to make things. We may have climbed out of the Tupperware age!

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Monkey and the Grinder.

I've never seen this partnership except in a few old movies. I doubt this profession exists anymore. In the movies there was a guy down on the street with a music machine. He would turn a crank the music would play, the monkey would dance.  The crowd would be delighted by the antics of the costumed monkey at the end of the show the monkey would grab a cup and solicit payment for the show.  The monkey always got loose and worked the larger crowd. The monkeys getting loose generated most of the revenue for the show. Having worked that area the monkey would get on the back of the grinder. The grinder pushed the music machine to the next location.  When they arrived, the grinder turned the crank on the music machine, the monkey danced, you get the picture. There are a number of metaphors in this romantic picture. We have mostly forgotten them or where they came from.  "Working for peanuts".and "having a monkey on your back"  come from this metaphor.So do "working for the man" and "being on a short chain."  The concept of "nickel man" is similar. " If I had  nickel for each time I've been put on, I would be the nickel man. And I'd sing a nickel song" SINGS the MONKEY.  The plight of the worker, put on the back of the employer, aspiring to be the boss and knowing he could and would do it better.
     That's all most of us ever get to see in this economic scenario. Most of us aspire to be the grinder. We get caught in the daily grind.  The unmentioned, vital, character that makes it  all possible never gets mentioned. He's the third ingredient. He's the real magic.  He's the one that sees the opportunity. He is the maker of the music machine!  It's an Art ya know? 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A shift in thinking

     "Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will be Happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you need to do in order to have what you want." ~ Margaret Young.  I liked that quote and the fact that Yahoo posted an article on creating your own job on FB this morning.  I liked those two things because they relate to this mornings blog.Remember that high school guidance counselor that said if I wanted to be a jeweler I would have to be a watch maker?  He was historically correct.  During the late 60's most jewelers had a background in watch making.  The shift from being a society based on agriculture to one based on manufacturing introduced a dependence on arriving to work on time. Trains ran on a schudule, Workers were paid by the hour. The question " Do you have the time? " began to mean,  Do you possess a machine that indicates the passing of time in a uniform and accurate manner"  To the farmer time was bigger,  seasons, months, sunrises and sunsets.     The industrial revolution introduced new words and concepts.  Punch a clock,  full time and part time,  tardy to mention a few. Minutes and seconds became important.  With all of the emphasis on time came machines to regulate it's passing,  Pocket watches, later  wrist watches, the Regulator on the wall, and the Grand farther clock, kept the time.  There were  people that made watches. All of the train stop towns across the country had a gentleman that repaired clocks and the portable ones.  He had the skills to make parts  needed.  The curious thing to note is that the keeping of time was accomplished through a mechanism known as an escapement.  Watchmakers work on very small machines. It takes a great deal of concentration to do that kind of work.  There was a constant demand for services.  Most of these watchmakers  were mom and pop shops.  He did the watch work,  she talked to the people.  The extent that he didn't have to talk to people during his day became a direct reflection on the quality of his work.  Other things happened they discovered that customers would buy jewelery while they were getting their time machine repaired.  There are a few famous businessmen that began as watchmakers.  J. C. Penny,  Sears and Roebuck all started as watchmakers.  It took me along time to realise that the reason these entrepreneurs succeeded as sellers of jewelry, perfume, electric shavers, diamonds and thousands of other things came from the watch makers bench. Their ability to invest in things they could sell came from the positive cash flow of the watchmakers bench!  I didn't have to be a watchmaker ( that's a good thing because the world doesn't need watchmakers anymore)  No, I needed the positive cash flow the work at bench produced!  That's statement represents a shift in thinking. The counselor could never understand. He got paid for showing up on time. He didn't create things.  I love making things.  People like the things I make.  Sometimes the things I make speak to people, we'll call that work my art.  A positive cash flow became another thing I could make.  In fact the better I got at making it the more time I could spend attempting to communicate.  Let's give that a while to sink in.  Want a much better understanding?  Read "Rich Dad Poor Dad"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

No Fear

     I'll let you in on something few people know about me. I have a fear of heights. It hasn't always been that way, I was a bit of a climber as a kid. I've shingled more than my share of roofs, set up more than one set of scaffolding. A skydiver friend explained it to me this way, "you're not afraid of heights, you are afraid of doing something stupid. while your feet aren't on the ground." He  gave this bit of wisdom to me as part of the explanation of why he always packed his own parachute. Frankly I've never wanted to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, I'll never understand why anyone would. But his lesson stuck with me. Because I know me, I can and do, do stupid stuff,  without even trying. ( I like the way I worked do do into the conversation, never mind that, ok?) I am well aware of my capacity to do stupid things. Some of the stories about my adventures are almost legendary. Such as my wife's favorite story about the time she came back to the store to find I  had super glued my thumb and pointer finger to a pearl and my other hand to the bench pin and was forced to watch as my German Sheppard security dog ate my cheeseburger..
    Us farm kids learned to drive at an early age. By age 12, I was driving a tractor. At fourteen I owned my own pick up truck.That was common in the neighborhood I grew up in. There were even occasions when I had to drive the other guys equipment. Here are the firsts two questions we kids learned to ask. How do I shut this thing off?(start it) and where are the breaks?  The answers to those two questions removed most of the fear of doing something stupid.  Armed with a little knowledge we got stuff done.
    Knowledge is a good thing. That first pickup I owned was a 52 International, metal flake blue, duel exhaust, Hurst shifter with a Hemi in it and baby moon caps. For several years it had no reverse gear. Thing is I learned to compensate or plan for never backing up. Never really became a problem. Having the knowledge that there wasn't going to be any backing up and a plan that became a habit for parking  I compensated for "Babies" deficiency.
   Through all of that come some lessons. Yup I am capable of doing some pretty stupid stuff.  I prefer to do stupid stuff with my feet on the ground. Good habits and a plan can frequently prevent my doing stupid stuff.
Knowing  how to stop removes the fear of proceeding. (keep the acetone near the super glue) and remove the fear of failing by knowing that most of the time you succeed. In other words don't concentrate on having no reverse, instead plan to go forward.
    Tomorrow we are going to get to the meat of this being an artist stuff.  With some thoughts on the economy of it. I've been mulling it over a little.  ( Insider Joke: no banana necessary)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The money shot.

       Back in the day if you placed an object ball, frozen on the end rail and my shot was from the kitchen. the odds of my making the bank shot to a corner kitchen pocket were about 8 to 1 in my favor, with a house cue. There were people that knew that. To them that shot was a money shot. If we were playing eight ball and I broke the odds that you would never get to shoot were about 3 to one in my favor. If we were playing snooker and I called a three rail bank to the side pocket you shouldn't bet against my making the shot.  If we were playing snooker and you followed me the likely hood of your ever getting open was very slim.
      There was a reason why all of the above were true statements for the time period. I practiced,  and I always played to win. I never shot slop. I shoot shape. The old guys would watch me practice. Before shooting I would wet my finger and touch the table. That dot on the table would very close to where the cue ball would end up after making the shot. The old guys taught me how. English is my friend.
     The result of practice and good instruction was being good at making shots most people couldn't do. Beyond that was the difference between the house rack cue and my locked up out of sight under the bar cue. I practiced with my cue. I usually played with a house cue. If I ever got my cue out  The game was on!
     Those days came before my first jewelry store "The good ol' days" The lessons learned were applied.

Always play to win. Call your shots. Set up the next shot. Play with your own cue. Be very good at doing the things most others can't do. Practice. Don't get upset if you miss a shot. The likely hood of your missing two in a row is pretty slim.  Don't forget to enjoy the game.   To me a large part of enjoying the game is the experimental,  it's the Art part of what I do. These four pieces are the result of last weeks play, problem solving and discovery. Very pressing things. Copper or aluminum  

Monday, October 4, 2010

A ring a day? You're fired!

     The Florida weather has changed, whew thank goodness. This morning when I stepped out onto the patio it was a pleasant 75 degrees. That's a welcome change from just a few weeks ago when at 6 am the temp out there might have been 85 or higher with the usual 95% humidity. At this mornings temperatures I feel a little bit more like working. This blog is going to take a change of direction for a little while.
     I'm going to be typing about the "good old days." . In the beginning there was a high school art student. He didn't consider himself to be an art student. He just had a permanent pass from study hall to the art room where he spent most of his time casting and fabricating sterling silver jewelery. Time period late 1960's. My principle employment during this time period was a grocery store and the small family farm. There was a fateful decision made during this time period.  The high school guidance counselor said I could be a forest ranger, a teacher or a jeweler. But if I wanted to be a jeweler I would have to become a watch maker. I had no desire to repair watches, none. I became an Art teacher, then a jeweler. I should have realized that the logic of the counselor was flawed. I think I did. These were after all the same people that wouldn't allow me to sing in the choir, because my hair was too long.
     Junior College found me employed as the lighting tech person for the drama department and a serious Art student. Those were the years of my welded sculpture. I spent most of my time back stage or in the Art room.
The next three years found me making jewelery to put myself through college.
    I was a high school Art teacher for a couple of years. I could not imagine doing that for the next 20 years. I loved it and hated it. The next five years were spent in the family business. We sold tools and supplies  to farmers in the northern 1/2 of Iowa. I tripled my teaching income. I purchased much of my studio equipment during this time period.
     This was followed by a five year apprenticeship to a retail jewelery store as a bench jeweler. During this time I also did casting and custom work for the other jewelers in town at home, from my bench. Then I opened my first jewelery store. That store and the experiences from the bench will form the basis for this blog for a while. Those are what I will refer to as the "good old days"
       I've given you a little back ground so that you will understand somethings.  This is not my hobby, I do not do this as therapy. I do not string beads, never have. I do not make spoon rings, never have. I do not make peace symbols, never have. I do not repair watches, I hire people to do that. I do not engrave trophies or plaques. I employ people to do that. I will not put a battery in your watch. Have the clerk at Walmart do that. I do not sell watches. I will shorten your watch band, in the blink of an eye, because it's sort of a piece of magic my hands do. No charge. I consider it my community service. During the good old days I  worked only in gold.
    Because of my background I do not work on one piece at a time. I work on things in batches or groups of five. I produce more work than others for a couple of reasons. I own the necessary tools to work productively and I make very efficient use of my time. Much more on those concepts to come.
    If all I ever got done was one ring a day I would have been fired years ago. This weeks attainable goal is produce 100 pair of earrings among other things. Those are bread and butter items. That will get this blog  started in a new direction.
    Hint for the day.  Do all the easy ones first.  every day!
I still ponder  being a forest ranger. Things just didn't unfold that way.  They won't for this Monarch either.