…the more they stay the same. That’s the quote, isn’t it?
Things have changed a bit (again) since my last post many months ago. I no longer have the booth space in the craft mall, for one thing. It seems the people who shopped there were looking more for baby gifts and trinkets, rather than handmade artistic pottery and home decor items. It was an educational experience, though — it gave me a new understanding of arts and crafts marketing that I hadn’t had before. (You can check out my work in my Flickr portfolio on my Clay Harmony website.)
Last fall, I got another, entirely different perspective on what I’m doing at Clay Harmony. I went to the Oklahoma Arts Conference in Tulsa last October, where I was surrounded by about 300 artists of all types — fine artists, as well as writers, musicians, dancers, and other artists working in less common mediums like my polymer clay or another lady I met who painted on silk.
That conference really opened my eyes and made me realize that what I do is more art than craft — no wonder I didn’t do well at the craft mall! They were the wrong audience for my art. I had suspected as much before going to the conference, but the things I learned there confirmed it.
During one of the sessions, I showed someone a bracelet I wore to demonstrate the answer to the repeatedly asked question, “What do you do?” That person happened to work at the Gilcrease art museum in Tulsa, and she suggested that my jewelry would fit in well in their museum gift shop. Yes! That would be the proper place to display my creations! It made perfect sense.
So, one of my goals this year are to upgrade the quality of my jewelry, using sterling silver hardware instead of “costume jewelry” fittings, for example, so I can approach museum and gallery gift shops with confidence. It looks like I’ll end up with two product lines — higher-end pieces for the gift shops, and lower-cost items for the handful of craft shows I plan to do this year.
Another goal I have set for myself is to finish writing a book about my mother’s life. I have much of it written, but need to refine it and add pictures and other details to it. I’ve joined a writer’s group online to help with the writing part, and plan to self-publish it by the end of this year.
With my desktop publishing skills, why not? The book will be a good challenge, and I think it will be a very satisfying project on a personal and professional level. Stay tuned!