Botanical Magnets, Art Markets, Oh My!

magnet-compilation-web
It’s Small Business Saturday y’all!  I love that there is a day to celebrate shopping small, though I wish every day were a day to recognize, and make a conscious effort to support small businesses.
Sometimes the products that we sell cost more, because we source our materials differently, trying to ensure they are produced with care or fairly, humanely, that the workers who create them or harvest them are paid a fair wage etc.  Sometimes we are making our products by-hand, or making them here in the United States, where labor costs, commercial space, utilities, and the cost-of-living is significantly greater than developing countries, and thus, our products cost more.  So if you can still support us with your shopping dollars, we appreciate it!
This holiday season, I am introducing new pieces to the Hieropice product line, Botanical Magnets!  They are miniature landscapes designed to attach to any metal surface, and come in a variety of styles.  I will have them at my upcoming art markets at the Old South Church Christmas Craft Fair on Saturday, December 3rd, and at the Etsy Artists of Boston chalet at City Hall Plaza December 16th through 22nd.  I love  making them.  Tiny, perfect ecospheres preserved in time.  Yay, nature!  And yay, handmade!

New Workshops, new shows!

fern, shell terrarium web
Excited to announce that I’ve added a couple of new workshops to my August roster, in addition to the upcoming glass-etching workshop on August 27th. I’ll be teaching two workshops on terrarium-building on August 14th and 23rd!  These two classes will focus on how to create sustainable tropical ecosystems under glass, with step-by-step Moss and plants for terrrarium workshopinstruction and tips on keeping your terrariums beautiful long-term. Attendees will get to personalize their terraria, and we’ll use truly unique glass vessels (no fishbowls here!) to build in.  Very excited to offer this class at the Presentation School Foundation in Brighton, as previously, I’ve only offered it and Brookline Adult and Community Education and Newton Community Education.  If you live in the Greater Boston area, or will be on August 14th or 23rd, join in!  You have to pre-register to attend, register here.

This Sunday, I’ll be exhibiting at SOWA Boston, debuting some new pieces. I’ve created new terrarium ornaments, botanical-gilded lanterns, terrarium shadow boxes and botanical-etched decanters. SOWA is open from 10 AM – 4 PM on Sunday, and is free to attend (it costs $10 to park, but you can use the parking voucher at any of the vendor booths!)Gilded Botanical Lantern 2

Lichen, moss, and making things

lichen in handI am still as obsessed as ever with all things botanical.  I took the most truncated vacation ever, and, as it was me on vacation, spent a significant portion hunting for lichen to use in future terraria.
I have also had this long-term plan/goal, to make lighting around my terraria, and I’ve been playing around with a bunch of different concepts.  I’ve built some pieces, created elements, but haven’t quite created anything I feel represents what I see in my head.
BUT I had a thought while I was on vacation, and when I returned, started working on it.  I just completed it, after a bunch of experimenting.  Lots of cutting glass, applying chemicals, applying more chemicals, changing techniques, and I quite like what I’ve made now.  Here it is!IMG_4902 My phone is pretty abysmal and ancient, so photos are not great, but I’m pleased with how the lantern came out.  It’s a bit hard to see the reflective nature of the floral pattern on the glass in the photos, I’ll take others somewhere down the line.  I’m looking forward to playing with the techniques more to create more pieces.  Yay for being in a creative period!

New Stuffs!

Green Orchid Bud Vase close webI am expanding the Hieropice product line, after a couple of years of awesome responses to our terrarium ornaments.  I used to do a lot of glass-etching in my youth, and started incorporating etching into last Winter’s ornaments.   During the holidays, I offered ornaments with etched designs and pressed botanicals.  I am now expanding my etched pieces to bud vases, lanterns, cruets (those dispensers for oil, wine, etc.) and more, that I offer at art markets and online at Hieropice.com and hieropice.etsy.com.  The pieces featureEtched Fiddlehead Frame 2 web the thematic elements customary of Hieropice, ferns, orchids, and bits of nature I fall in love with as I explore.  I create original drawings and etch them onto reclaimed glass, and, in the future, will create some pieces that incorporate more glass techniques (mosaic, stained glass, painted glass, etc.).  I hope you enjoy these new pieces, I am really enjoying creating them!

FYI, if you’re in Greater Boston, you can still register for one of my glass-etching workshops taking place on August 4th and August 27th, at the Presentation Foundation Community Center.  Pre-registration is required, and the registration link is here: http://bit.ly/29ztFz6

Hieropice in the Etsy Finds E-mail!

Just a quick geeky post to say, I was so psyched to see my necklace featured in the Etsy Finds e-mail on Thursday!  Thanks to friends who made sure I saw it (I would’ve missed it without you!)
Hieropice in Etsy Finds

Is that handmade?

Changes are afoot!  But change is a good thing, right?!  Sometimes…
Hieropice homepage I launched my website, Hieropice.com, in November.  It was an exciting venture, to create a website that was truly my own, that I could design, tweak, make.  It is a venue accessible to anyone, whether they’re familiar with Etsy, or Hieropice, or not.  I can include features there that I can’t on Etsy, like images from Polyvore, where users have styled ensembles with Hieropice pieces, as well as my local craft-show itinerary, links to my blog, and a gallery of custom pieces I’ve made in the past.  I get to control the look and feel of the site, and make it match my brand.
While making Hieropice items available to customers from a variety of venues is good business sense, it wasn’t my sole motivation for opening Hieropice.com.  At the beginning of November, handmade, vintage, and supply site Etsy, which had been Hieropice’s primary online home, made some changes to the site’s policies which were…difficult for me, as a handmade jewelry artist.Polyvore Set

Shortly before my older brother passed away recently, he asked me, “what’s the big deal about handmade anyway?  I don’t get what could possibly be better about something someone’s making with their hands versus a machine.”
I get his inquiry.   Machine-made things are not only great, but they’re sometimes essential.  I expect my car to be machine-made, my electronics, my appliances.  I know these items often have elements of human assembly, but I feel comfortable with the fact that a machine manufactures them primarily, making each one identical to the next, precise, solid, consistent.
But for things that I connect with in an intimate way, handmade matters.  When I go out to eat at a restaurant, I think about what I’m consuming, where things were grown, even what the creatures I’m consuming consumed when they were alive!  I think about how a dish was prepared, how the surface it was prepared on was prepared, what herbs, spices, fats, proteins and vegetables went into it, the manner in which it was cooked.  Most of us have thought more about these things as our knowledge of the effects of food on our bodies and our environment has grown. organic farm We care where our food comes from, and what’s in it, as we care about what it does to us, to those around us, and our environment.  And we appreciate being able to ask the people who grew it, prepared it, cooked it, served it, questions about it.  And knowing that someone is accountable for it.
Handmade, in whatever form it may take, is valuable for these reasons.  When I create a handmade piece, you can ask me anything under the sun about it.  What is this made of?  Where does the material come from?  What’s the history of this technique?  And I can tell you.  (And if I don’t know off-hand, I’ll certainly do my research!)  I’m accountable for what I make, so, it matters to me what it’s made of, where the materials come from and if they were acquired responsibly, whether the piece stands the test of time, whether a buyer is happy with it.  A machine simply doesn’t have an opinion about any of those things, and when it’s pumping out thousands of one thing at a time with a focus on speed and quantity, it becomes difficult to even determine where issues may arise, where flaws may be, and who’s accountable for them.manufacturing plant
For example, there are materials often used in jewelry, like coral and diamonds, that have controversial histories.  Some diamonds originate in areas where violence and exploitation play a major part in their acquisition, and some coral is harvested with methods that destroy environmentally-critical coral reefs.  (The coral used in Hieropice pieces is sustainably-harvested)  For me, as a handmade-maker who is accountable, I could never be comfortable with selling pieces that include materials with those origins.  Because I value my work, and am focused on its quality versus the monetary gains it might provide, and I know that my customers would also expect me to make my pieces responsibly, I try to ensure that my work reflects my values.  And if, at any point, I discover a material I’m using has origins I cannot support, I have an obligation to discontinue using it.  Like most handmade artisans, I am a singular, accessible artist.  There’s no corporation for me to coral farminghide behind with an endless labyrinth of communication barriers, no machinery that must be re-designed or dismantled in the event of a production concern, no “bottom line” I’d have to consider before removing a questionable material from my work.  There’s just me!
A handmade-maker offers a potential customer the ability to collaborate, though they may not be an artist themself, and have a concept they’ve only imagined realized.  Buying handmade allows you to customize a piece, and have something unique and one-of-a-kind created.  I like knowing the handmade piece I own is the only one in existence.  Or the piece I’ve designed for a loved one was created with them; their specific preferences, wants and needs, in-mind.  Some of the most fun and creative pieces I’ve made have been custom requests, like the miniature terrarium necklace I created for a woman to give to her sister, who loves pigs and grew up raising them on the family farm.  Miniature Pig The manufactured items in my home are useful, no-doubt, but I’m pretty sure a million other people have the same laptop and bookshelf I do…  Handmade items have a “special-ness” that mass-produced items just don’t.
When a person receives a handmade piece, they get something that someone has connected with, labored over, that contains the artists’ imagination and vision, the benefit of their years of study and practice, their skill, their unique method.  You know how groups of people go to those trendy painting parties, and they all try to copy a known painting, and every participant’s painting comes out looking totally different at the end of the evening?  Every artist creates differently, and interprets differently, and infuses their distinct perspective into what they create.  While other artisans can imitate pieces that I create, I try very hard to ensure that my pieces are truly my own, and that only I could create them, the way I do, as they are.
glass terrarium by HieropiceAnd there’s always a story behind a handmade piece, which in itself, has value.  I have always loved nature, and when I learned how to make full-size terrariums; natural environments encased in glass with soil and charcoal and plants and moss, I was SO excited to share them with people.  But while friends, family, and customers appreciated the beauty of those terraria, they expressed fear that they’d be unable to keep the plants lush and green and alive!  So I came up with a concept that would allow fellow nature-lovers to keep an encapsulated natural environment with them, without the maintenance.  And building the miniature terraria allowed me to imagine more and more tiny environments, some that I’d never be able to capture in nature, like the Winter White Terrarium Necklace.  And so my obsession continues!  With a handmade piece you get a story, about what inspired it, why the artist made it, how they made it, and their vision for its use.  You get a tale to recount to friends and family when they ask “where’d you get your necklace?”  And there’s a certain measure of pride when you can say, “a local artist made it, because…”  I’m not sure if my tea kettle has an interesting story behind it, but I certainly can’t ask the machine that made it!Winter White Terrarium Necklace by Hieropice
So, that’s why handmade is great!  I wish I had answered my brother this way when he asked.  But it was difficult to articulate.  And all of those things, the accountability, the customization, the uniqueness, the artistic vision, the story, have been a part of buying on Etsy, the biggest online handmade marketplace in existence.  But, their policy, as of November 1st, 2013, now reads “Etsy’s new policies allow you to partner with manufacturers to produce your designs. A manufacturer is any outside business that helps make your items. For example, you can work with a foundry that casts jewelry you’ve designed, a studio that fires pottery you’ve thrown, or a factory that cuts and sews clothing you’ve created.  Handmade items must begin with the imagination and creativity of the member operating the Etsy shop. Sellers can use the help of other shop members, or outside manufacturers, to bring their visions to life.”
Etsy Town HallHmm.  Reading that gave me pause.  Etsy administrators held a “town hall” where they explained how this new version of Etsy would function, with sellers now able to send designs overseas to be manufactured, to have items shipped from other locations directly to their customers.  For some of my Etsy friends, this means wonderful things, like they can now sell books featuring their original illustrations on Etsy.  But the policy change also means that a person’s hands don’t actually need to participate in the creation of the items they sell on Etsy.  Items can be manufactured by machines, and by their essence, not handmade.  The shop owner has to participate in the creative process of their items, but there’s no definition of that participation.  For some, that could be simply choosing the color chair or dress they want made out of a manufacturer’s catalog.  And when the items I make contain all of the tenets of handmade I described above, and are in a “handmade” marketplace alongside items that are being pumped out by a factory, it troubles me.  I know that major designers do this typically; Karl Lagerfeld and Diane Von Furstenburg don’t sew a single stitch on the garments that bear their names.  And it has honestly always bothered me!  It seems to be the mark of becoming majorly successful as an artist, to become increasingly disconnected from your work.  At the same time, major designers aren’t selling their items in a “handmade marketplace,” nor claiming they hand-make them themselves.  Etsy has made its name as the preeminent handmade marketplace.  But when items are losing multiple essential elements of handmade; the hand-labor, the uniqueness, the story, the accountability, etc., they no longer meet my expectations of handmade.  So, while I’m keeping Hieropice on Etsy open, I’ve created Hieropice in progressHieropice.com to honor true handmade, and all that that entails.  Etsy is a fine marketplace, that still contains a great deal of truly handmade items, and still deserves your patronage.  There are many dedicated artists who sell on Etsy, including me!  But Hieropice.com will be a handmade venue exclusively featuring my work, and I hope that you’ll support it (and true handmade), as well!

Love, Dara

The new things I’m doing for the holidays!

gift for a gardenerI made a new necklace!  I think it’ll be the perfect gift for a nature fan or gardener.  Particularly since it my neck of the woods (New England), it’ll soon be cold and Wintry!  It’ll be a great way to keep the beauty of Spring with around, despite the frost and snow outside.

Blue earrings by HieropiceI also want to share a new pic of my Cobalt Blue and Gold Maasai Beaded Earrings, which are available both on Hieropice.com and Hieropice on Etsy.  This pair is one of my favorites, and check out how pretty they look on one of my customers, in a photo she posted to Facebook!Hieropice's Blue and Gold EarringsI love that she sent in this photo.  The earrings look great on her.  Thanks, Ashley!