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.


Christine said...

I love the fortune one! That would be a perfect gift for someone who works with kids.

Waterrose said...

Great post and perfect business topic. Thanks for stopping by and entering my giveaway!