Athens, Georgia, known for its enormous college and crazed football fans, also has an engaging artist community. One market is not enough to contain them all. Athens Farmers Market, in Athens, and Oconee Farmers Market, in nearby Watkinsville, feature fresh produce, and handmade goods from March to November each year.
Janice Hagey-Schmidt: From a young age I was going to the library checking out craft techniques. I used to paint metal shapes and glass bottles as a kid. Later I progressed to throwing pots and bowls on a wheel. I was thrilled with the use of underglazes on porcelain. And then… one day I took a metalsmithing class at a community college. I have been working mainly with metal ever since. But… I make my living as a graphic designer. Metalsmithing is my art.
The image above is from Gbrosseau Photo
I’m writing this at the end of a wonderful long weekend, and as the title suggests, I’m pondering the meaning of the word home. Why now? It’s been on my mind for months really… We currently live right downtown – and while many of our friends have found this to be an ideal environment for raising kids, for me personally, I’m not sure that it feels right.
Both my husband and I fondly remember childhood days spent frolicking in the forests near our homes, building forts, exploring, and having “adventures”. For me time spent in the forest feels as natural as eating or sleeping – despite having lived in cities of various sizes from the age of 11.
The city we live in and the surrounding countryside have an increasing problem of affordability – and many people are forced to move further and further out into the suburbs.
While the suburbs are an option – my husband will continue to work in the city for the foreseeable future, and many of the suburban areas that appeal to us involve an hour and a half commute. And I think it’s tough to know on the outset what kind of experience you’ll have in the suburb you choose. Some neighbourhoods are certainly more community minded and friendlier than others.
This past Tuesday I was busy planning our hike for this weekend and thought it’d be fun to go a bit further afield than usual, to Bowen Island (a 30 minute ferry ride from downtown). I started reading about this jewel of an island on the Pacific and I really liked what I read. I was actually so distracted by everything that I read that it made it tough to work that evening. We decided we ought to go for the weekend as perhaps this is just the type of place we want to call home. Bowen is a heavily forested island with a year round population of 3,000 people that swells to over 4,000 in the summer. It has a quaint downtown with shops, restaurants and a vibrant artisan community. There are no chain stores of any kind. Instead you’ll find miles and miles of trees and hiking trails, hemmed in by rocky bluffs and sandy beaches. The island has a strong history as a place of deep community ties and its populace is very involved in civic affairs.
The image above is from Spread the Love
After this weekend I’ve fallen in love with the island and I know my husband has warmed to it too. As city folks we aren’t that involved in our community right now. It’s easy not to be in the city. I volunteer as much as I can for a local social enterprise, and we make time to see our close friends – but other than that we often find ourselves working long hours, which often seems necessary to keep our entrepreneurial ventures healthy. Now as we ponder the next stage of our lives, thinking about our future children and putting down roots, we’re forced to ask ourselves just what home means to us, and what we should prioritize. We’re planning to visit Bowen again in September to learn more about the island, and we’re considering giving it a test run as renters, perhaps next spring. So for now, things are up in the air – but in the meantime, it’s given us plenty of food for thought as we plan for the future.
I’d love to hear some of your experiences as you were looking to settle down and have kids!
The spring craft market circuit is really starting to get fired up! This is an off week for me – but I attended shows the last two weekends. Craft markets are a great way to find local crafters & designers in your area and support local tourism at the same time. So I decided to peruse craft show listings to find inspiration for this week’s Shop Local post.
The Spring Bada-Bing, in Richmond, VA really jumped out! The show is in it’s fourth year and is hosted by the Richmond Craft Mafia (a member of the Austin Craft Mafia family) – whose slogan is “rubbin’ out the massed produced.” The SBB is held at the Plant Zero Arts Center, a community center with space for studios & apartments for artists, a cafe, & exhibition space. This year’s SBB will be help on Sunday, April 19 from 11 am – 4 pm.
A member of the Richmond Craft Mafia, Tasha McKelvey is a clay artist specializing in kitchenware & ceramic jewelry. She prides herself on creating art that is meant to be used & touched. She says, “today our homes are filled with stuff stamped out by machines. When we seek out handmade art we make our surroundings a little more human.”
I’ll admit it – the skulls caught my eye on this one! Crystal J. Silk uses traditional silk painting and dying techniques but creates anything-but-traditional patterns. Her work is vibrant, graphic, and quite hip. What would the boardroom think if you paired this silk scarf with a boring blank suit? Or just dressing up a T and jeans?
Erica Vess, who created this adorable “Up, Up & Away” digital print, is the brains behind BeesKneesStudio. Erica is VA born & raised and holds a BFA in painting & printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University. She also creates acrylic paintings, tiny watercolors, and fine art prints.
Craft is certainly alive in Richmond, VA. Do you know of an emerging craft community? Please drop me at line at tara AT handmadeinpa DOT net.
This week my post focuses on an issue that many designer-makers worry about – having designs copied. Unfortunately, it happens often and sometimes even by large retailers, making independent designers feel powerless. This is what happened to Eloise of HidenSeek and in the first of a two-post series, I talked to Eloise to learn about her experience.
In November 2009, Eloise became aware that stationery retailer Paperchase was selling a range of items, tote bags, notebooks and other paper goods, with a design that contained a girl that appeared to be traced from one of her artworks. The items were sold both in the UK and in the US and Eloise was alerted to the issue by concerned friends and fans.
“After a bit of panic, bewilderment and tea I contacted Paperchase, being sure that they wouldn’t want to have any part in copyright infringement,” Eloise explained. The company’s representatives replied that they thought the designs were substantially different and they were unwilling to take any action. “They seemed to imply that since the designs would not be reprinted after that run, it wasn’t a big deal anyway. After I explored my options and looked into hiring a lawyer, finding it impossibly expensive, I decided to just go public with my problem and seek for support from my fans and the community.”
Here’s where social media can come in extremely handy, as it enables the very fast distribution of messages to a global community. “It took innumerable complaint letters from people who read about my story, globally trending on Twitter, many newspaper articles and dozens of blog posts around the internet for things to start moving on the side of Paperchase.
“Finally, the designer that created the infringing design admitted that she had traced over the girl from my work. It should be noted that I never received any communication after the first reply for Paperchase regarding the matter and they only indirectly mentioned me in a kind of public semi-apology where they tried to set themselves up as a victim. Paperchase did remove the infringing designs from UK circulation but never offered compensation or settlement with me and they are still sitting on all the money they made from a known infringing design.”
When it came to the handmade community, Eloise explained that the vast majority of artists, designers and makers that she saw and met were very vocal about the issues. “Everyone tweeted, re-tweeted, blogged and wrote letters to Paperchase. I felt how other makers were empathising and putting themselves in my shoes, and that of course led to them speaking out in my support. It’s worth noting though that people from Etsy did write about my case and others in a personal capacity on the Etsy main blog and well done to them for taking a stand where other big names didn’t.”
“Certainly there was a lot of traffic back then and I’m still mentioned here and there when it comes to similar cases of infringement, but I wouldn’t wish anyone exposure like that because it did come with a price. The levels of stress were unbelievable. If this experience helped me at all, was because it was a crash course in real life media crises and I came out much more strong and confident.”
Check back next week when my post will feature top tips for protecting your work from infringement – and how to handle it if the worst happens.