I love to update you folks whenever we add a new handmade item to Hieropice’s Etsy site. Enjoy!
In honor of Spring, and all things bursting out and blooming, I created a new Treasury List on Etsy. For those unfamiliar with Treasury Lists, they are collections of items by Etsy sellers, unified by a central theme. I’d collected a ton of amazing items in my favorites full of flowers, plants, and animals, so I compiled them into my newest Treasury. I particularly love the rhinestone-encrusted rhinoceros and the pine-bow baby hammock!
Introducing our White Coral Branch and Crystal Earrings:
So, you folks know that I primarily sell Hieropice’s wares on Etsy, a site for handmade crafts/art. The sale of vintage goods (more than 20 years old) and supplies (for making art/craft) are also sold on Etsy.
Periodically, the admins at Etsy will choose a shop to feature on their front page. They’ll interview the shop’s artisans, post their photos and photos of their work, all on Etsy’s homepage, and it typically gives a massive boost to a shop’s sales. Naturally, lots of us on Etsy would love to be featured!
But recently, a controversy ensued over a shop Etsy chose to feature, called Ecologica Malibu, that specializes in furniture made from reclaimed wood from boats. The impression given from the original article, which has since been modified to reflect recent disclosures, was that the Etsy shop owner, Mariana, with the help of several artisans, was designing/hand-making the furniture sold on their Etsy page in a Malibu-based shop. But, for whatever reason, someone became suspicious about Ecologica, and investigated. Evidence was found that the furniture was being made overseas, arriving in the US and then being sold on Etsy, all without Mariana or her shop ever taking part in the process. The furniture was also sold in large quantities on other sites like Overstock.com, and bills of lading for Ecologica’s furniture shipments were discovered, which led other Etsy artisans to start questioning whether this qualified Ecologica as a reseller, or, a shop that re-sells mass-produced goods, which Etsy does not allow.
There was a lot of back-and-forth, with Ecologica’s lawyers, and their overseas shop’s rep, and Etsy’s admins, and Etsy’s other sellers, all calling foul. Etsy eventually did go back and edit the feature on Ecologica, stating that they qualify as a “collective,” which they do allow, though Ecologica had failed to disclose that when they were interviewed. The parameters of a collective seem fairly narrow according to Etsy’s faq, and doesn’t explicitly allow for one person to design a product that another person will make, which is what Ecologica claims they do (Mariana designs —> shop overseas makes —> Mariana sells). But the parameters don’t explicitly forbid that activity either, which has really irritated some Etsy sellers. They ask a valid question; if what Ecologica Malibu does is ok, does that mean a seller could, in theory, create a design, send it to an overseas sweatshop for manufacture, and sell the products on Etsy for a massive profit? Without the accountability for production, how to we preserve the “handmade” aspect of Etsy?
But the controversy also inspired other questions for me. Where do you draw the line? The vintage goods sold on Etsy have no “handmade” requirement, they can be, and usually are, factory-made, previously-purchased, resold goods. Do they violate the “resell”policy? Supplies almost always are factory-made, but are permitted for sale on Etsy. What about them? What qualifies as “mass-produced” goods, which Etsy doesn’t permit? A shop with 10 people working in it, making products? 25? I am hoping to one day, return to Tanzania, where I learned the technique/design behind Hieropice’s Maasai Beaded line, and work with local artisans to make the pieces Hieropice will sell.
As I mentioned in a previous post, the artisans I encountered there have immense talent, but nowhere no real market for their work, as the meager revenue from tourist sales doesn’t really cut it. I’m nowhere near being able to accomplish this goal, but, the Ecologica Malibu kerfuffle has made me think twice. Truly successful artists often get somewhat divorced from their work, like a Dale Chihuly, whose staff create and assemble artworks under his name, or a Wolfgang Puck, who owns a slew of famous restaurants bearing his name, but rarely cooks at any of them. I’m curious to know what you all think about this topic. You know, when you buy a Tiffany ring, Louis Comfort Tiffany had no part in making it. What is, and isn’t, an acceptable level of involvement of an artist in the creation of their work? Please comment.
I want to share a new listing, that I’ve just added to Hieropice’s Etsy site. It’s a whole new style, that we’ve never created before, and I’d love to get your feedback. What do you think?
Years ago, when I was in art school, I entered a Swarovski (of Swarovski Crystal) design competition. Entrants were tasked with creating a design showcasing the broad range of crystals Swarovski makes, and designers could create pretty much anything, as long as it was handmade, original, and at least 60% crystals. I won first place, with a design the incorporated all of the romantic elements I love, crystals and feathers and orchids, all in white. It was the biggest competition I’d ever entered, and the biggest prize I’d ever won!
Entering the competition exposed me to Swarovski’s incredible line of products; I honestly had no idea they made so many different crystals. I learned about how they’re made, and disassociated my concept of Swarovski from and overly-blinged-out ice-dancer’s costume to sophisticated, beautiful elegance. I don’t make a lot of pieces for Hieropice that incorporate crystals, and strive to make sure that when I do, the pieces maintain that sophistication and elegance. Hopefully, you think these new earrings do!
Not to worry though, if you enjoy Hieropice’s other lines (Maasai Beaded, Lost World Mini Terrarium Necklaces, etc.) We’ll still be creating those! We just want to make sure we’re always innovating, and offering you something new.