Pendants, pendants, pendants, ybonesy’s pendants in progress, photo and images © 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.
Remember that television commercial from the 1970s where one boy’s walking along eating peanut butter out of a jar, and another boy walks around the corner eating a chocolate bar? They both spy a pretty girl and–BOOM!–run into each other. The boy with the jar says, “Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter!” and the other boy says, “You got your peanut butter in my chocolate!”
Wa-la, the birth of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups.
Somehow that feels like my artwork right now. I’m walking along carrying a tray of all my little doodles, and another version of me comes along carrying a tray of assorted game pieces. BOOM! We run into each other and explode all over the kitchen counters.
I wanted to take photos of the entire process of creating my version of Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, but I found that I’m not together enough to document my work and do it at the same time. I can, however, share tidbits of what’s been going on in my mind of late.
Why make Peanut Butter Cups to begin with?
I’m going to be in a show on Sunday, September 13, called We Art the People Folk Art Festival. No screening by jury. It’s for regular folk who happen to be artists.
I picked this one because a) a friend told me it was a great event with loads of people coming through it, and b) it sounded like something I’d want to attend on a Sunday in the beautiful Albuquerque fall. It’s downtown in a narrow strip of a park, walking distance to Java Joe’s and the old Fedways where Mom used to shop when I was a kid, the old Paris Shoes, and a dress shop that made what we called Fiesta dresses. (I have two vintage dresses, one from my grandmother.)
It’s old Albuquerque. Gente. I’m thrilled to be a part of it and wonder what took me so long.
The main reason, though, is that making the commitment to something outside of myself is the best way I’ve found to keep moving forward with my art.
What to make?
Ah, what to make? This can be a mind-boggling question for the budding artist and it can become the downfall of any person who dreams of turning their ideas into reality. At some point, you just have to commit to doing something.
Here are two bullet points from my answer to the question “What is my vision for my business?”
- Own a vibrant and vital online retail business, catering to young and old, activists and quirky individuals of all stripes, people not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves and speak their minds to the world
- Have a diverse range of products, from affordable to high-end. Products will include paintings, three-dimensional pieces of art, tile pendant jewelry, note cards, paper products, t-shirts, and other print-on-demand and/or handmade items (all made with my doodles, paintings, images, photographs, and designs)
Quite the mouthful, eh? That’s not even the whole vision. Given the current venue and deadline, I narrowed my current focus to two items: t-shirts and jewelry.
And notice I’m not even to the part about the “vibrant and vital online retail business”? Before I attempt online, I want to talk to the people who will buy my products. I want to hear what they think, find out which sizes, shapes, and designs they respond to. This show, and probably a few others that I’ll do as I continue to learn, is about understanding what it is I’m doing. Right now it’s all grasping at straws.
How to do it?
Before I bought any raw materials (not including all the raw materials I’ve purchased on and off most of my adult life but never used) I set up a legal business and got a tax certificate. Again, this is about more than the show on September 13; it’s about actualizing a vision.
The t-shirts I got from a place called Alternative Apparel. Not your typical Hanes shop. Alternative carries styles I like to wear: scoop- and v-necks, fitted, sheer, and for the traditional t-shirt types, a great-looking slouchy style. I ordered about a hundred shirts and had them shipped to the printer who is transforming my designs into silk screen. Him I found by asking folks at Guerrilla Graphix, a local store whose shirts I admired, Who does your work?
Tomorrow, the silk screener will have a prototype of one of my images ready for me to view. I’ll take him two or three other designs and get his feedback on which ones lend themselves to silk screening. He’s been doing this work for many years, and he has no qualms about telling me if an image isn’t going to transfer well.
The jewelry is made using something called “doming resin.” Doming resin is a type of epoxy that dries into a clear glass-like plastic. The epoxy has a hardener in it to keep the substance, which when wet has a consistency like honey, from running. Doming resin can turn a two-dimensional surface into a three-dimensional one, and it has the effect of slightly magnifying the image it covers.
To make a doming resin pendant, I first need to produce an image that fits on whatever surface I’m going to use. Since I’m working with small surfaces, I need to modify my scanned doodles on the computer to crop and/or resize them to fit the surface. Next, I’ve found a local company that will print an 8×10 sheet of multiples (about 25 doodles to a sheet) for less than a dollar each. I glue my image on to the blank side of a game piece–I’m using Scrabble, dominoes, Mah Jongg, and Tile Rummy–seal it with a clear-drying glue, then cover it with doming resin, which dries hard and wonderfully clear.
There are many How-Tos on making Doming Resin Pendants. Just Google those words (or Scrabble Tile Pendants) and you’ll find them. My favorite is this video made by Rio Grande, the Albuquerque-based jewelry wholesaler where I bought the epoxy resin, doming hardener, and chains and clasps needed to turn my pendants into finished necklaces.
There are many steps in the process yet, both for getting ready for We Art the People and for realizing my vision. A friend who I knew since 4th grade but only recently reconnected with via Facebook has done many shows. We’ve met twice, once last Sunday to make pendants, and on Wednesday night to talk pricing and display. I want to keep my jewelry under $20 per item, and in some cases, in the range of $8-12. This is a “people’s show,” and so I’ve purposely selected jewelry that is low-cost to make.
I’ve enlisted Jim’s help on the display. This weekend we’ll spray paint old Mah Jongg trays and a peg board for displaying the pendants, plus I’ll scour a few salvage shops to see if I can’t find a mannequin torso to model my t-shirts. I’ll also start working on a flier to send to my contacts (the organizers of We Art the People have a template for vendors to use), so if you’re a friend and/or Facebook contact who lives in the city, expect to experience multiple forms of harrassment as I insist that you come see my Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups. (OK, enough with the analogy.)
Also to consider are:
- Receipt books
- Shipping (when I get to that point)
- Taxes and accounting
- Online stores
- …and a whole host of other things to worry about.
I’ve hired a graphic designer to create a logo, and I’m hankering to take another Photoshop class (and really learn it this time!). So much to do yet so little spare time. That’s the thing with goals. You’ve got to be in them for the long haul, especially if the rest of life requires your full attention. That’s also why you’ve got to be willing to ask others for help.
Speaking of which, I have my sister Patty to thank for introducing me to doming resin. She is a polymer clay artist who is game for trying out any craft. She and fellow artist friends meet once a month to do doming resin. They make potluck Nachos or Frito Pie for dinner, then work in an area of the host’s home (always the same host) set up to accommodate over a dozen people at well-lighted tables. They share resources, materials, and most importantly, their creativity.
It is a brilliant idea and one that I am thinking about offering to my friends who’ve expressed interest in learning how to make resin jewelry. Communal art-making. What a concept!
I will check in occasionally on red Ravine–to let you know how the show went and to report on my progress toward this new direction. It will be slow going, but it will happen. ‘Cause I really like peanut butter and chocolate.
-Related to How I Plan To Spend My Oodles Of Spare Time and The Making Of A Painting Painter.