Sunday, January 31, 2010

Standing Out

Let's face it. I'm not the first to glue paper to the back of glass gems and turn them into magnets and paperweights. In fact, I am one of hundreds of sellers on Etsy that do this.

A simple google search will yield dozens of "how to's"......and that's how I learned.

You may think I'm a little nutty for telling you this. After all, now you all will click to google and search. And then you will create your own, right? Maybe. Maybe not.

I knew when I started making them that there were plenty of other sellers making them, too. But, I also knew I had ideas, resources and the ingenuity to make mine different.

After all, for the past 7 years, different was the key to my success as a glassblower. I didn't want to make what everyone else made. So I didn't. I saw a lack of smaller, affordable glass gifts in the marketplace, and quickly made that my niche market. I built my business on Bottlestoppers and Oil Candles, Bud Vases and Pocket Coins. To date, I have sold well over 5000 bottlestoppers. Crazy.
(what is even crazier is that I still enjoy making them. And I constantly add new designs and colors to the line).

Back to the glass gems......

When I began, I did what everyone else does. I went to the big Craft stores, sifted through scrapbook paper, bought my glass gems, and started creating. And they looked like everyone elses.

And then, the light bulb moment......I could make the glass gems. So I did. I don't make the little ones, but I do make all the larger ones. Now, I not only make them for my own use, but I sell them to one of the top Supply sellers on Etsy.

Thanks to a scanner, copier and photo editing program, I was able to execute some the Fortune paperweights, and dog/cat themed magnets. The Hooks quickly followed.

Okay, quickly is not quite right. The learning curve was huge. I had many failures. MANY. But, I loved the idea, so I perservered until the kinks had been worked out.

It's always a challenge as an artist, crafter or designer to stay inspired, to stay original, and most important, to stay true to yourself. Etsy is a constant reminder of the amazing talent and diversity that exists, and I have found much inspiration on that site. Unfortunately it is also a reminder that many people will copy others. Being inspired by others and copying others are entirely different things. It's up to us (as artists/crafters to know the difference).

(stay tuned, as I will discuss why I think the Bandwagon is not always a bad thing).

I love that I have the inate desire to be a little different. Tanner Glass wouldn't be here without it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Handmade Helps Haiti

Inspiration struck, and I created a new blog.

It's all about Helping Haiti, and is inspired by the countless artists, crafters and designers that are donating to various Relief efforts.

It's a win purchasing from these artists, you are helping a GREAT cause, and supporting the Handmade movement.

Take a look and spread the word!
Thank you!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Wait is Over

Finally. It hardly seems possible that I could have this blog for over a year, and have neglected to put a picture of myself in the Studio.

So, this really is Life as a Glassblower.

It sure is sunny there, but that's not why I'm wearing sunglasses. And I'm pretty cool, but that's not why I'm wearing them either ;)

The reheating chamber we use to reheat the glass is very hot. And bright. It's not as bad as staring at the sun, but pretty darn close. So, I wear them to protect my eyes. There's also the possibility that glass may *pop*, and I don't want a piece of that near my eyes, either.

Safety first.

(those tools in my hand? Those are my beloved Dino jacks. You can read about them here)


Sunday, January 3, 2010

Sharing No. 1

My blogolution for share.

And I don't mean in the "you can have some of my french fries" kind of share.

I resolve to share some work from artists and crafters (on and off Etsy) that have motivated me, inspired me, and all that good stuff. They shared with me, so, I shall return the favor, and share them with you.

First up.....

Littleput Books

(visit her Etsy shop here)

When I first joined Etsy in Feb 2008, Ryan (aka Littleput) was one of the top sellers on Etsy, with over 10000 sales. I came across her shop while reading the Etsy forums (extremely helpful as a new Etsy seller).

I clicked on her avatar, taking me to her shop, and immediately, I was intrigued. Not only by her impressive sales, but by everything in her shop. Her photos, her items, her materials, and her packaging.

(if you remember, I am a bit of a packaging fanatic. So, I have the most utter respect for those than can design clever packaging).

I studied her shop (little did she know), and used it as a model for my own. That, combined with the great advice she doled out in the forums, made me believe that I, too could be successful on Etsy.

I am not ashamed to admit, I put her on a bit of a pedestal.

So, imagine my excitement when I discovered that she had not only hearted MY shop, but some of my items. My new, "I'm not so sure if people will like these" items.

It was validating. And, motivating.

Almost 2 years later, I am nowhere near 10000 sales, but I do consider myself successful. I pushed forward with those items (the hooks, if you're wondering). And to this day, have sold well over 500 (on and off Etsy). I have an Etsy shop full of items I am proud of. An aesthetic I am proud of. And I'm thankful.

Thank you, Ryan.

Again, check out Ryan's Etsy shop. Lots of good goods (and VERY clever packaging)!