Category Archives: Inspiration

The Four C’s

We were delighted to be part of the first ever Surfside Studio Tour this past weekend – an event highlighting the artists and artisans of Highway 207 from Lawrencetown to Chezzetcook along Nova Scotia’s Eastern Shore. With the prospect of a new studio event we decided to innovate on our approach to this year’s tour. Reflecting on our values led to our choice this year to focus on four C’s – customization, collections, collaboration, and classes. The results have been very positive.

Customization: Art, for the sake of art, has its place and we love to be innovative and to use various media to express our creative energies on a unique artistic project. But we sometimes, necessarily, forsake our love for true art in favour of production volumes to sustain the ongoing costs and effort of being an artist – and preferably not a starving one.

OK – so if I make an interesting doodad that a hundred people would like to have, then maybe I should make a hundred of them and sell to those who wish to have it. Moreover, I guess there is nothing wrong with a customer coming in and picking up one of a dozen similar turned pens or identical cutting boards if they really like them. What we were trying to get folks to consider this week is the notion of intentionality and personalization in buying items for themselves and others. We are always happy to have the challenge of a client saying “Well my friend, Jane, is such a fanatic about xxx – can you put something together for her?” and then working with that client to come up with the perfect item that may be a one-of-a-kind product specially made for that recipient. In many ways it just feels right in terms of our philosophy of sustainability, to make things that are purposefully made to support the interests or needs of a person rather than trying to convince them why they need this knick-knack that probably isn’t all that relevant.

Collections: Our ability to create mixed media and diverse items allows us to deliver a multi-faceted gift or multi-use package of items that serve a similar purpose or can celebrate a special event.  A visitor to our open studio event has friends about to have their first baby. Seeking to find a great gift for their friend we suggested things like a custom baby quilt, a monogrammed baby bib, a hand-turned rattle, and a custom wooden mobile with various unique and colorful natural woods.

The mix of media skills we offer creates a one-stop shopping experience for that person and we anticipate her return to put together a package of gift items in a single purchase. Once again, we feel that this speaks to efficiency and sustainability and it feels good to present this idea as both an economical and environmentally responsible option.

Collaboration: ChezCraft, Gary Dumas, Brad Holley

Collaboration: We have many friends and colleagues with similar skills (and their own unique styles) in fabric and wood, but also others who work in different aspects of art & craft such as potters, jewellers, blacksmiths/ goldsmiths, photographers, stone carvers, to name a few.

This year we were able to match some of our own products with the work of Gary Dumas and Brad Holley in a special Asian-inspired collaboration. While our colleagues got additional exposure to a market they would not otherwise have been able to  access, we were able to present the talents of two exceptional artisans to extend our  collection and build our reputation for delivering high quality artisan creations.

Classes: The production of art and craft items is our primary line of business right now. But on its own it will not pay the bills of even a moderate shop like ours. Diversification of products and services is critical to our long-term survival. Although I feel the artisan and woodworker when I put on my apron, you just cannot take the educator out of someone who has been a teacher for any length of time, as Mary Elizabeth and I both have. This year we will leverage our educational background to offer one-on-one and small group training in the skills we have come to master. We are also hoping to launch a new YouTube channel with some short teaching pieces for specific projects and techniques. Based on our own custom patterns and plans, we think we can monetize the digital assets while offering some online instruction for free.

These four C’s really speak to a fifth one which is a favorite of ours – commissions. This is valuable as a revenue generation approach, but more importantly speaks to both our philosophy of sustainability, as well as our desire to get to know our clients more intimately – to develop deep relationships with Customers who are the most important “C” of all.

Progress Not Perfection

Finished is better than perfect

We have had another gap in our blog posting.  That is partly because we have been crazy busy with business and reorganizing our living and work space.  As a result, we have made progress in those areas but  haven’t had much time for playing with our art so, when we have had some time, we have been in the shop or studio making something or on the computer creating.

The absence of new posts is also partly a result of both of us having a tendency to seek a ‘perfect’ topic or inspirational idea or unique slant.  And then, the moment has passed.  We’re doing much better with that in our woodworking and fabric art but haven’t quite translated it to keeping current on our blog posting.

Today, I’m keeping it short, making it quick.   I’m again making the case for imperfection.

I have spent the better part of the morning installing and, of course, exploring Adobe Creative Cloud components and updates.  It has been inspiring and lots of fun but also rather a distraction from some other stuff that I have to get done.  It isn’t strictly procrastination but admittedly on the verge.   I am moving on to other things now.  Really.   But not before sharing this appropriate quote in an image card that I just made in minutes on Adobe Spark. Well, the actual work just took minutes. The fun of discovery took me off on a few adventures first.

Have no fear of perfection, you'll never make it

Get out to explore, discover and create.  Enjoy the process.  What will you achieve if you make your own case for imperfection today.

We’ll be back soon with more posts.   They won’t be perfcet.

Playing for inspiration

Breaking a Creative Block

Last week I was working on a challenge quilt that was giving me trouble because I was way over thinking. I can almost hear some of you saying “Wow, that is not at all like you”. To which I reply, that there is no need for sarcasm.   So back to my point.  I started several times but rejected idea after idea for a variety of reasons – too complex, too simple, too uninspired (or uninspiring), too cliché (I know, what does that even mean?). Continue reading Playing for inspiration

Random Thoughts: The Satisfied Customer

 

This post was written by Stephen Parsons.

Why do we do it? Why do art and craft entrepreneurs put their products and reputation out there in the marketplace? Business objectives are different for each business owner, I guess, but some  would seem more important than others. But how important is profit as an objective compared to other – perhaps more altruistic – objectives?

Piper – apparent satisfied customer

While profit and the need to express one’s artistic creativity and passion are goals we might think at the top of the list, Continue reading Random Thoughts: The Satisfied Customer

Take a Hike

This post was written by Mary Elizabeth O’Toole

The phrase take a hike has taken on an idiomatic sense of dismissal “Beat it. I’m tired of talking to you. Go away. Take a hike.”

I am using it in the more traditional sense of taking a walk, getting out and exploring.  Sometimes it is just necessary to get away from what you are doing to shake off the stiffness and clear the cobwebs. Taking a hike is good for both physical and mental fitness. Continue reading Take a Hike

Creating Creative Inspiration

This post was written by Mary Elizabeth O’Toole

I have been trying to write my weekend post for a few days but nothing has been working.  I have started a few articles.  Some of wondered off on unrelated, and sadly uninspired tangents.  A few have been added to my ‘need to develop’ file.  Others might work for a collection of random ideas in a summary piece.  A number of the promising starts just were not working for me – at least not yet.  It seems that the only thing to do is let the ramblings take me where they want to go today and use this lack of creative stimulation as my starting point. Continue reading Creating Creative Inspiration

Create daily

This post was written by Mary Elizabeth O’Toole

When you are trying to learn a new habit, or replace an old one, evidence shows us that it takes a minimum of 21 days of consecutive practice.  As a former language and music teacher, I know it is more effective to learn these forms of expression with regular daily practice rather than with marathon sessions just before a lesson or performance. Continue reading Create daily

Work in Progress: Passing the Torch

Today’s post was written by Stephen Parsons.

Warren Ervine – 1988 Olympic Torchbearer

Warren Ervine may not look like a legend, but thirty years ago, he did something extraordinary – something that only a few Canadians will ever do. Warren ran a leg of the Olympic Torch relay for the Winter Olympics in Calgary in 1988. On February 20, during our country’s sesquicentennial birthday celebration he will relive that event at the annual Sackville Business Association Snow Days Parade with a replica of the torch that he held high in ’88. That’s where I came in… Continue reading Work in Progress: Passing the Torch

Tech Tuesday: That Internet Thing

Today’s post is written by Stephen Parsons

The staff at my office think that either I am becoming totally antisocial or have a secret affair going on. While they are gathering in the lunch room to share their sandwiches and a little office gossip, I heat up my bit of soup or leftover chili and biscuits, then skulk off to my office Continue reading Tech Tuesday: That Internet Thing