Long time no post…

Its been forever and I apologize. Life is super busy (as I like it), and I haven’t had as much time for creating as I’d like. However, I am working on something very cool – a chess set! Its mostly a project for me, but I’ll put it up for sale once its done to judge reactions… Very unique, taking a ton of time to make, but I’m loving how its going so far.

More on that soon, hopefully!

In the meantime, stay cool, and enjoy your summer!

Thoughts on branding

Ok – had a great discussion today with my neighbor who happens to spend a lot of time on marketing and ideas. Her thought: there are actually two types of stoppers, and they really should be separated:

Why? Well, the tall curls or spires are unadorned, simple, artistic. The creatures are more whimsical, fun. The creatures make you laugh, the spires make you say “ooh”. They definitely have different feels to them – it would be much easier to give a spiral to someone and know that they would like it, where the creatures have much more personality, which means they can appeal more to an individual, but also makes them more of an individual’s choice, rather than a gift.

So – thinking of names. For the creatures: Wineosaurs. Party Animals. Like them both, for different reasons. Wineosaurs is a fun thing, but totally skips the fact that they’re actually at least as well suited (if not moreso) to sitting on a bottle of scotch than a bottle of wine. (Scotch you open once and drink for a long time. Wine lasts a day or two usually.)

For the others… having a hard time with that so far, but would love thoughts. Something like “wisp”, except they’re more solid than that…

Busy season!

Stoppers are on the march, y’all.  Shelburne Vineyard has them for sale, home on Shelburne Rd will be selling them when they reopen (sounds like a cool place: wine tastings, local foods, local crafts, furniture – I’m curious to see how it works out.)  Block gallery in Winooski will be carrying them during their big yearly show in November.  There are a few other local spots I’m looking to get into as well.
Shelburne Vineyard display

All of which means: get making!  There are nine in the bisque kiln now, and I’m hoping to keep up at least half a dozen a week for the next month.
Waiting for firing

Its tough being in this stage – I believe in the product, retailers believe in the product, but I’m needing to make ahead something whose rate of sale is totally unknown.  One a day?  One a week?  A month?  Here’s hoping I don’t end up with too many in stock or too few to keep stores full!  Anyone have any tips on predicting this kind of thing?

Roadshow: pro

It occurred to me this week that I need a better way to keep a selection of stoppers with me. While travelling I spoke with someone who would have sold them in his shop, but since I didn’t have any I may have missed the opportunity.

This fits the bill really nicely. Its a “pistol case” that I picked up for under $30 from a local sports store. Two layers of convoluted foam and one of “pick and pluck”. The pick and pluck means you can pull out chunks of the foam based on a grid to make room for things.

So now I can carry a ton of single and double displays, two of the longer point-of-sale displays, a box of Moo cards, and a dozen or so stoppers. It shows very well (much better than unwrapping a dozen stoppers from bubble-wrap), and better yet it makes great protection. Even after a drop of a few feet down onto the floor, the stoppers didn’t move at all. I think now I’ll just plan to keep this filled with a full dozen and keep it with me any time I travel from now on.

The last thing it needs is a price sheet (or just price tags?) of some kind that’s generic enough for a shop owner to be able to choose the stoppers they want and me to keep track of that. (I think if I want to step up production, I’m going to need to stopping naming each stopper. Or I’ll go nuts.) (More so than normal. 😉

Boxes!

McMaster-Carr to the rescue again. I finally found some boxes that I like – heavy double-walled on three sides, white paperboard. One smallish size, one slightly larger. Cost about .62 each for the smaller and about .97 each for the larger. Now if I can track down a nice-looking sticker or stamp to use as decoration, I’ll be all set!

Be sure to Bid for the Barn!

Hey everyone –

the Bid for the Barn is going amazingly well. They’ve received a huge outpouring of support from Vermonters, both as donations and as bidders. Its gratifying to live in a place where this is true!

The donated stopper got into a bit of a bidding war earlier in the week, and went to almost 20% over its value. Nice validation, and a great donation! I’m hoping there’s another push once we get closer to the auction’s close on the 30th, but honestly I don’t really expect this to go higher. (When anyone can just come here and buy one at normal price.)

In hindsight, in the future I may try donating a custom-designed item to create some extra value to the buyer.

In the meantime, stoppers are rolling on again after a bit of a hiatus. I have a few new ones out for bisque, and some great ideas. (I’ll be pursuing the lamp finial idea, for one thing. I need to stop by Conant Brass and see what they can machine for me.)

Stopper donated to BidForTheBarn!

Bid for the Barn - support Pete's Greens and local foods in Vermont!

Bid for the Barn - support Pete's Greens and local foods in Vermont!

Pete’s Greens, a major local food provider for Vermont, much beloved by localvores and foodies alike, suffered a huge setback when their barn burned down. (Along with equipment, food, and more.) This is an online auction to help them rebuild! Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge foodie and love eating as locally as possible, so when I discovered I could donate to the online auction I jumped. (And as an artist, exposure is always a good thing, so this works out well for everyone.)

The lucky bidder will get to choose the stopper of their choice, and will help out the local food economy while doing it. How can you go wrong?!

Seriously though – check out the auction when it goes live on the 23rd – loads of good stuff in all kinds of price ranges, and all for a good cause.

Brought to you by your local stopper mob:

Stopper mob, comin' ta getcha!

Stopper mob, comin' ta getcha!

First Etsy Sale!

Last night’s email brought something fun – my first Etsy sale!  Curly Creature 5 is zipping on his double-boxed little way to Cindy in Kentucky.  (Along with a couple business cards and a personal discount code so he can have some friends, of course!)

Happy Holidays and enjoy Cindy!

Curly Creature 5 – heading home!

The Artist’s Bullhorn is now taking beta users!

Ok, here’s something new – The Artist’s Bullhorn is now taking beta users.

Your use of the service will be free – your only form of payment will be some occasional stress due to bugs in the code (please let me know if/when you find any!) and a quick weekly survey to let me know how things are going.

Surf on over to The Artists Bullhorn and sign up! (Its under the “Brag” tab.)

Stoppers in the wild, The Artist’s Bullhorn progress

Display Stand with stoppers and Moo cards

Display Stand with stoppers and Moo cards

Some great progress lately! My wine stoppers are finally in the wild. There are three gracing a favorite restaurant in downtown Burlington, VT (“Blue Cat Cafe“), a gaggle soon to be for sale in a local wine shop (“Dedalus Wines“), and plans for more! Along the way, I received a full batch of stands that look great, including a new design for point-of-sale displays. And a new batch of Moo cards.

I also pulled in all of my Curly Creatures to my Finished Work page. How? Just one click, actually. (Cool.) See below for more.

I’ve also made some huge strides with the website (“The Artist’s Bullhorn“) that’s helping me (and soon to be others too) tell the world about all of these creations. You’re seeing it embedded in my WordPress site when you click on the “Finished Work” tab – all of the product browsing is done real-time using Bullhorn. Behind the scenes though – that’s where most of the magic is happening.

I now have full support for both Etsy and Smugmug – once an item is in Bullhorn, I can post it to its own Smugmug album with just a few clicks. I can then create an Etsy listing (which will of course contain a link to that new album) with another few clicks.

I’ve got some great utilities for managing my Etsy items as well – I can mass renew, change listing states, and see tons of info on all of my items. I can also import items from Etsy straight into Bullhorn, including all of their photos, tags, materials, etc. (That’s how I imported nine items with one click. I still say that’s pretty damn cool…)

What’s next? More debugging, as well as support for Twitter (almost there) and Facebook.