Friday, December 4, 2009

New Polymer Clay mold line

For all you folks who are working in polymer clay, there's a new line out on the market. This particular line, I helped to produce.

It's not mine, I just helped in the designing and make the molds. This young man has a head full of ideas and he's running to implement them.

What's different about these molds? Glad you asked. ha  Him being pretty much a novice, when we met, he ran into problems like getting the clay out of the mold,without disturbing or tearing the clay. So he had me design the molds into parts, so that instead of just pulling off half of the mold, one can pull off a quarter, keeping the clay intact.

An example is a mold for the leg that is in 3 parts. The front half is all one mold piece, while the back of the leg is in 2 separate pieces.

In addition to that, he had me design the molds so that the torso and head is in one mold and each limb has its own mold. Each mold has little guide lines for the armatures, so the body parts match up.

He started out with a male angel named Gabriel, then had me add molds for goat legs for changing the figure. Then on top of that, he had me design the torso and legs for the Taurus so that Gabriels body can be attached to turn him into a Taurus. Then he added molds for wings and the wings are gorgeous. Then he added the merman, which is all in one mold, using Gabriels head design.

He's in the process, now, of having another designer come up with the female counterpart of the right proportions for Gabriel along with another set of wings and taurus body. He's planning to have the entire family including a little boy and little girl, all with additional molds for altering the original.

Along with these, he has tutorials on his site at http://www.natureboyzart.com

Right now, he has ebay listings for a few of the molds:
http://cgi.ebay.com/Mold-Angel-fairy-fantasy-Sculpture-Christmas-Price_W0QQitemZ270492737403QQihZ017QQcategoryZ11692QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

http://cgi.ebay.com/Mold-Merman-fairy-fantasy-Sculpture-Christmas-Price_W0QQitemZ270492721188QQihZ017QQcategoryZ11692QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

http://cgi.ebay.com/Mold-Faun-legs-fairy-fantasy-Sculpture-Christmas-Price_W0QQitemZ270492741636QQihZ017QQcategoryZ11692QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

I will try to keep you updated with the progress of this new line of molds.  You'll love them because.....a novice can create works of art with these mold.

Monday, November 9, 2009

In a time of recession, how do you survive?

I, personally survived working a ceramics production for almost 10 years. I always wondered about that because it didn't make sense.

How did it happen? I linked myself with a much larger manufacturer of jewelry and giftwares, that specialized in South Western design and sold to gift shops all over the world. I rode somebody else's skirts, so to speak.

Instead of insisting the world love my finished product, I went straight for the ground floor and began producing a product that somebody else finished.

My name was on nothing. I was nobody but I survived with my own hands. So there's an idea for you.

Snoop around and find out who might be running a large production, selling in mass and low prices. A sweat shop!

How could I work for such 'tiny' money? Simple...I cut my own costs and cut the time it took to produce, down to the bone. When I cranked up the kiln at night, it was so crammed full, it took twice the time to reach temp.

I broke down the cost of electricity, wear and tear on the kiln and my own labor cost, right to the penny. I knew exactly what I needed to be making a profit. Pride had nothing to do with business.

Could I turn out beautiful and useful things? Yes but it didn't pay. I did that in my spare time and took care of my wholesale customers.

I actually started out delivering green ware and my customer loaded it into the kilns along with their own products. I did this until I could afford my own kiln, then we made changes to the pricing for the bisque.

I continuously added new designs that I designed myself, to add to their variety. Some sold and some didn't. But I kept right on, designing and adding to the line.

I survived this way, paid my rent and supported myself for almost 10 years. Believe it or not, I got into trouble when I started expanding in size, which required more equipment and a bigger overhead. I was doing just fine, sticking to my little miniatures and selling to the bigger outfits.

Sometimes you have to get creative in your thinking. Reach out there and find others in your own category, who are profiting and expanding and latch onto them. Offer your services.

Possibly plaster figures to the craft shops for others to paint. Possibly supplying green ware or bisque to a manufacturer.  Have you visited an auction house lately? Did you know that if you turn out pitcher and bowl sets, they just might buy them at a low price or even take them on consignment for the next auction?

Find factories making things that you could possibly supply the basic components for.

When times get tough, forget the knitting and crochet. Discover something else and quick. Something like cut out wood pieces, bisque or plaster objects. Expand your horizons.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Update on the new Connections site

In the week since building the new site, I've had one crafter send me her information. We certainly need more than that.

The site is set up to make connections between U.S. crafter's in business and U.S. wholesale buyers. The buyers are coming but the products aren't. We have wholesale buyers looking for you and you are not there.

Of course, the buyers are also not sending in their search list, just signing up for membership. Most likely because they don't see much and certainly not what they are looking for.

We need the crafter's to get over to the site and send me the information of the products they produce. U.S.Connections

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Connections Website

This site is strictly for connecting U.S.crafter's, small business manufacturers with U.S. wholesale buyers.
http://judysbookshop.com/biz2bizAmerica/
Drop by, fill out the contact form and give Judy your information. She will contact you to narrow down the details and search for a connection for you.

Friday, August 21, 2009

What is a Crafter


The term ‘crafter’ is a more modern term but truly the same meaning as historical ‘craftsman’. Historically, it was said that what a man did for his livelihood, was his craft.
So what is a craft? Actually it’s anything that produces items of worth:buildings;vehicles;horse shoes or harnesses;clothing;shoes;hats;toys;plumbing, and so forth.
Today, we seem to have taken on the specialized term of crafter, to mean someone who creates with their own hands, as though only decorative items could possibly be a craft.
The truth is a flooring man is a crafter (or craftsman), as is a plumber. This is their craft.
There is the modern day argument about what is art and what is craft. Art has nothing to do with life necessities. It does not produce utilitarian products. Art is appealing to the eye and can be applied to just about anything, including a craft. Art is entertainment, while craft produces something of need.
To answer the modern day argument, if you make a quilt or ceramics or even wooden toys, you are both a crafter and an artist, simply because you apply eye appealing design. An artist can enhance your craft but cannot produce a self sustaining useful product.
I can produce a water pitcher but until I also apply art, there is nothing unique about it. If you were not both a craftsman and an artist, you would not be sitting at craft shows. If you did not also apply art to your woodwork, what would you be offering that didn’t look just like everyone else’s?
To view yourself as any sort of crafter, aside from other needful crafts, is to think yourself a hobbiest. This, you are not, because you craft with the intent to sell.
So to know whether you are a ‘crafter’ or an ‘artist’, simply ask yourself if you produce a necessity in life. Do you produce pretty shelf sitters? That’s an art. Do you produce quilts? That a craft.
Utilitarian is the dividing line. The shoes are utilitarian, the color is not. The bowl is utilitarian, the painted design is not. The wooden wall hanging is not.
Anything produced only for the decorative value, is art. Anything produced for utilitarian purposes is a craft.
Art:
pictures of any sort
wall hangings
garden decor
theater
sculpture
jewelry
applied decoration
crochet as in doilies
tatting unless to be worn
macrame’
Craft:
quilting
sewing
crochet (to be worn)
knit
woodwork
utilitarian ceramics
weaving (rugs and clothing)
and
homes
flooring
plumbing
shoe maker
clothing manufacturer
and so forth
I'd like to take this opportunity to invite my followers to follow me over to http://judysbookshop.com/blog
This is where I spend the majority of my time, these days and this blog is where you will stay up to date.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Updating my Readers

To keep up with the latest that Judy is blogging about, I suggest you visit http://judysbookshop.com/blog and subscribe there.


Although I do still blog here, I spend most of my time at the other site, since it's connected with our Crafter's Corner.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Test the Market

Have a new idea but not sure about the market? Create a few prototypes (samples) in what ever variety can be offered. If it can come in different colors, sample those colors. If it can come in different sizes, create a couple different sizes.

Shop around and find the store you think your product might find it’s best opportunity. Now the good part.

You can get your foot in the door, so fast, by explaining to the shop owner, that you want to test the market on a new product. If they wouldn’t mind, giving it a trial run, you’d be willing to offer an exclusive, in thanks.

It goes like this. You leave the product, free gratis. Get a receipt, showing what products you left there, you can use your own receipt pad. Tell the owner, you’ll be back in a week, to see how it went. Go ahead and give the product a wholesale price, so that the owner will know how to price the items.

If the product sells, in that week, you then make out a receipt for the wholesale sale, and collect the money. If it does not, this is your opportunity to chat with the owner and get his/her input. What do they think will be the chances for this product. Is there a change, they see that might help.

If it’s just a no-go, there is still a huge opportunity. Find out what does sell. Would they like to work with you, in creating a new product. What have they been looking for, and can’t find. Who knows, you just might be able to fill the bill.

Remember always, especially on that first visit, never stand between the shop keeper and the customers. Know your place. Put yourself in the same position as the shop owner-main concern, keeping and eye on shoppers, being available. When a customer walks up to the cash register, you step aside immediately. This lets the shop keeper know, you know what the score is.

I met the music box shop owner, for the first time, by simply snooping around the shop. When I saw a nightlight much like one I made, I piped up and said, “I make one almost identical except for one thing…mine is much more realistic to style and has a little more color sparkle to it. AND I wholesale mine much less than this one, I’m sure”. Nabbed. On the spot. She wanted to see mine. Our friendship and business dealings lasted over 2 years, before she sold her shop.

Be gabby but not butting in on any dealings with customers. Make sure the shop owner is out of ear shot of customers. They don’t need customers, knowing where he/she buys their goods.

“You know…this looks almost identical to one I turn out for about $6. Is this made locally?” :) Believe me, it works.

Your Name in the Local Paper

Small towns and cities, all across the nation, have their own small newspapers. You usually find stories about local folks, especially historical and new stores opening, etc.

But did you know, the writers for those small papers are always digging for anything newsy? Sometimes those reporter/writers have to dig hard, to keep those pages filled with interesting stories.

You’re not imposing, when you suggest they do a write up on you or your product. It’s a helping hand. It’s also a great way to meet new friends.

Our local editor was thrilled to come out to the house and do a story on my new instructional e-books, a success online story and an interview with pictures of my most recent projects.

You’d be surprised at the newsy little ‘bit’ she did on me. It filled her pages and brought me at least 2 new restoration jobs from locals, reading the local paper.

Don’t discount your little local paper or those writers and editors, so hungry for more to fill those pages. And don’t discount the value it will bring back to you.

So you think that because all you do is crochet or knit that you don’t have anything to offer. Do you sometimes donate items you’ve made? Are you a wood worker, building toys for children? Are you about to launch a new website? Just about anything like this, is local newsworthy and you should give the editor a call and get on the ‘possibility’ list.

My Offical Blog Spot

I try to keep both blogs up to date but to make sure, you might want to venture off to my main spot, to see what's happening.
http://judysbookshop.com/blog

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Don't Do It!

Just don't do it. Unless you just happen to love spending money and time on others, don't take special orders without up front money.

I'm good at preaching and so lousy, sometimes, at taking my own advice or even listening to my own instincts.

Not long ago, I received a special request. It had to do with specially designed drawer pulls. I decided this would be a good project for my grown daughter. If not for that thought, I would not have done this at all. I gave up, a long time ago, and went to writing instructions, instead of working my back off for nothing. I vowed never to put myself in the position of victim, again.

Well, obviously I did. Running on trust (this person sounded so desperate and earnest), I designed 3 separate drawer pulls, according to the pictures he/she sent me and the dimensions I was given.

Right off the bat, the paws weren't right. I was directed to other pictures, online, that looked nothing like the first I was sent.

I was already getting aggrivated, but went ahead and spent the time to redesign. In the meantime, I ordered in enough inserts that fit into the back, for a bolt through a drawer front. I paid almost $50, considering shipping. Then I also invested in the glazes, after this person selected the colors from an online catalog. Naturally, there were 12 colors. So, there was another $30 plus for glazes.

At his/her earnest pushing, I finished a dozen samples, which this person approved from pictures. So there was the consideration for electricity and wear and tear on the kiln, for 2 firings.

What do you suppose the outcome was? He/She vanished. No contact, not even a 'go to hell'. I've tried numerous times, to contact him/her by email, which seemed fine until now.

I'm out around $100 and performed designing work and mold making that would have amounted to a charge of $100 and the customer.....poof...gone...

I could get nasty, considering they even have a website online but I imagine, by now, the web host has also discovered the disappearing customer.

So it's time to preach to myself, all over again, decide what to do with unreturnable supplies and go on to better things.

So the upshot? Don't do it. Do as I say, don't do as I do.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I don't have a job, then why am I so busy?

The thought crossed my mind, the other day, "if I don't have a job, then how come I'm so busy?"

Right now, I don't know how I'd ever find the time to do the things I do, every day, and hold down a job, a the same time.

I guess I'm my own job. The pay hasn't been so bad and is actually about to get better. The only problem is.....benefits. Need to think about that one.

For the past few years, I've been doing just about nothing more than driving a truck across the 48 contiguous states. Out of necessity, of course.

Now I find myself at home, at retirement age, and can't find a single day of doing nothing.

I started taking on custom mold making jobs. That has turned into a full time job, all by itself.

Having retrieved all my ceramics equipment and supplies, out of storage and into a double garage, my thoughts turned to one of my heart's greatest desires-teaching. Now, I'm lined up to do hand building pottery classes and there seems to also be a desire to learn more about mold pouring.

When I list the things I could teach, I find there isn't enough of a lifetime left, to cover it all. I'll sure try.

All this reminds me of something my grandmother told me, many years ago. I was just a child, at the time. Grandmother had a little Christian Supply shop and craft supply store. She said, "Judy, if you ever want to go into business, the way to start is by teaching. You teach a technique that requires the supplies you have in your store, and sell your students those supplies. That's how to start."

From time to time, I think about her words. So today, I pass on that little bit of wisdom, to you.

If you find yourself pulling on those rope ends and not quite making it, from month to month - teach.

You don't have to have a special license to teach something you know. If you're willing to teach and you have students willing to pay you for them to learn, you have a class. Either have a good supply of the materials needed for the projects, or cover the costs of those materials in the tuition. Don't forget your knowledge is worth money. :)

I'm about to start teaching hand built pottery. Next, in the plans, is to get my equipment up and running, a supply of clay slip and start yet another class in pouring ceramic molds. I just may go on to teaching mold making.

I have a knitting machine, I haven't had time to touch since 1987 and boy, would I love to get back at it. Once upon a time, I was very good with the knitting machine, designing my own clothes and making custom fit. I'd have to spend some time alone, to remember all these things but then look at all the more classes, I could host.

I could teach sewing and knitting and crochet and all sorts of time honored crafts. Right now, I'm giving my own grandson lessons with the scroll saw and plan to graduate him into the whole aspect of wood working and furniture building. Even if I have to learn it myself, as we go along. :)

You, too, probably have a world of knowledge in you. Sit down and make a list. Then start asking around. "What would you think of me starting classes in ???" You might be surprised.

If you can't sell them your end product, maybe they want to learn how to make it themselves.

Look at this list of classes. You might be surprised.
Cooking
Baking
Running a household
Organizing your home
How to make money, cleaning out the garage
Canning
Gardening

and now for the crafts:
knitting
crochet
sewing
quilting
macrame
jewelry making
clay work
wood working

and a whole slew of simple projects like
embroidery
rug hooking
and more that you've already thought of.

Just because it's 'old shoe' to you, doesn't mean it is to others. You have to remember that not everybody has your talents and just might desire to learn.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Banding Together

That’s the way it works. That was the concept behind shopping centers. United into one unit, sharing a big parking lot, attracts more traffic to each individual shop. It works.

The meer size, carries with it, a physcological impression of superiority. Individual shops, that might have a hard time attracting the shoppers, would find themselves reaping the benefits by joining together with several others shops, in one spot. Have you ever wondered why a store would put out twice the rent, just to be included in a shopping center? There must be a good reason.

That is what Judy’s Corner is all about.

I’m familiar with the rail but the rail isn’t all that particular about who is linked, where. If you fit into a wide range called ‘art’, then you fit,in their opinion. The webring is much the same. Not only do they not care about specialized categories, they don’t control who your neighbor is.

Again, that’s what Judy’s Corner is all about. Not only is it important to me, that it be only hand made crafts, listing on our front page, I also care to keep the categories, within the category, separated in some way, so as not to provide ready made competition. The very least, I can do, is put two crafter’s alike, on oposite ends of the board. What’s more, I’m talking about tangible products, not website desiging. There is a huge difference.

The bigger the crowd, the better the traffic for all. I’m working on that but not getting much cooperation, as yet. Odd, considering I’m offering this for free, want to help out and I know there’s a massive world of crafter’s out there, needing more sales.

If anybody has any suggestions, I’d love to hear it.

Mixing Plaster

(excerpt)
How to mix Plaster:

1. Always weigh out the amount of plaster you need, then look up the water by weight percentage. For example USG # 1 Pottery for making molds uses 70% water to plaster. So 10 lb. of plaster requires 7 lb. of water. First weigh out the plaster you need, take that amount and multiply it by .7,(point 7), (7/10) this gives you how much water to use.

2. Generally speaking the larger the percentage of water the softer and more absorbent the plaster will be. The harder the plaster the less water used.

3. Hot water will speed up the set time and cold water will slow it down.

4. Place the water in a suitable sized container. Always add plaster to water. Pour the plaster into the water and let slake for one minute. Mix by hand or with a Jiffy Mixer, being careful not to suck air into the plaster. When the mixture is lump free it is ready to pour; don’t wait for it to start to thicken.
(end excerpt)

This is a note from a supplier. In all my packed boxes from the ceramics shop, I have the complete charts for every variety of plasters and cements. I promise, as I continue to unpack and arrange, when I run across these charts, I’ll be back with the information.

After studying the formulas, years ago, I devised a shortcut which I describe in the ebook. I’ve never had a problem using my little shortcut.

Just a couple notes:
Hot water truly does speed up the setting time. I prefer room temperature, as then my timed activities are right on.
I have, due to interruptions, left plaster sitting for up to an hour, without the chemical reaction starting, simply because I had not begun to mix.
Plaster is not panicky stuff. :)
Always, after shaking in the plaster, let it sit (untouched) for at least 5 minutes before mixing. This is called slaking. It gives ever particle an opportunity to come into contact with water.
Mix for 3 minutes steady (5 minutes for hydrastone). Let sit for 3 minutes. Mix again for 3 minutes and pour.

If using plaster or hydrastone to pour into rubber molds, tap the sides of the mold to release trapped air bubbles.

Tax Headaches

I’m still facing a mountain of receipts and math. Why? Well, I’m just full of excuses: a move from one state to another, retrieving all the ceramics equipment out of storage, pneumonia (dragging tail), and a whole slew of busy, busy.




What ever the reasons, I resorted to a box just to make sure I kept receipts all together. I can’t wait until this part is over, 2008 was tumultuous and I’m ready to settle down and get back into a routine.



Is it just me, or do crafter’s just always have a head full of ideas and lists of things to do? I’m never bored. My entire life seems to have been spent in shoving things to the back burner while I work on something else.



That other instruction book is almost ready, the one that discusses things like rubber molds, the variety of rubber and how to use them, the variety of mediums used in molds, all that. Pictures, were the hold back, and I’m just finishing a custom job involving both rubber and plaster molds.



If you’re like me, it’s not a matter of organization, it’s a matter of having way too much to do in just one life time. Do you think we’ll ever get a handle on it?

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About Me

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I'm a grandmother of 1, a ceramist, a ceramic mold maker, a truck driver and writer.

I'm also a webmaster of many and have several blogs.

I help others in designing product, make custom molds and I still do restorations.