Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why stop at sea glass rings? Maybe wire wrapped necklaces...

Sorry for the post delay - I was hoping to get some images but this lousy New England weekend escaped me.

So the logical step from seaglass rings was necklaces. That is, wire wrapping as a pendant to hang from a cord (typically black; seaglass looks GREAT against shiny silver wire and anything black). And these necklaces are really cheap to make, especially with my overabundance of seaglass. I've experimented with a couple of different types of cording; frayed, satin, suede, and ribbon - they all look great!

So here's what I did and a good how-to for future references:
To assist the wire in holding the weight of the seaglass on the cord, I wanted to drill a hole at the top of the piece to wire through for better stabilization. Dad helped me out with this one; he lent me his drill, and bought a glass-drilling bit for this project. Also, for those interested, you have to drill seaglass UNDERWATER, to avoid overheating the bit and preventing the glass from breaking. It also takes A REALLY LONG TIME to drill, especially if the glass piece is really thick.

So we flipped this plastic plate (obviously not glass!) and drilled through. You also do not just drill from one side to the other; you drill equally by alternating sides. It's helpful before you start to mark the same point on both sides. Then, keep drilling *patiently* until you see the other side! You'll be able to hear the difference, too.

And in happy unrelated news - I sold a great deal of inventory at the SSYC's Chowder Party this weekend! Thanks to all for your continued support. I also have a large ongoing calligraphy job right now, and my Italian class is almost over!!! YAY!!

Trip to Bermuda - "Hey, I can make that – and cheaper!"

So my family and I went on vacation to Bermuda last year, and this was about the time where I was getting interested in looking for jewelry inspirations. Bermuda has a lot of turisty stuff, but it also has a very unique style. They just LOVE shells, bright colors, and big dangly things. Which was perfect, because I'm all over that stuff.

So I returned home to the lovely weather of Boston, Massachusetts armed with new ideas. First of which was the dangly necklace, already pictured in the previous post. Second were seaglass rings. (p.s., I write seaglass as 1 word but apparently it's two. Sorry.) I saw a local artisan making them, but she was using sterling silver wire and wrapping them in a really complicated way. So I studied them, tried them on, and was confident that I could make a similar design (without copying, of course!) with silver plate wire and my own wire-wrapping style.

For those who condemn me - I heard an applicable quote once last year at art school about replicating paintings, in other words, learning to paint by painting masterpieces: " In 'copying' a master of art, it is really impossible to replicate the piece exactly; a little bit of you always shows through."

I had a ton of seaglass from when I was younger and my family and I would go out on our boat and collect seaglass from the Islands around Boston (i.e., Portuguese Cove was GREAT for that!). I still have a LOT more. But anyway, I'm selling them off at $12 each (sometimes $10 if you catch me at a lucrative art sale and in a good mood :) which is a great price! And I just ordered a ring sizer from Nile Corp jewelry supply, so I can get a more accurate idea of what are the more popular sizes - I made a great deal of rings before the 2009 Sidewalk Sale this year, and sold a bunch, but at the last few sales I've had, people have said that I do not have their size. So bear with me!

"Chill out with the necklaces…everyone has a favorite bracelet." - Mom

This quote actually rang true for me...I went a little beaded necklace crazy. Sorry. I like shiny pretty beads, and I get excited. Mom was seeing what I was coming up with, and suggested that I pull back and condense; to start with some bracelets, as people are more likely to purchase those -- and she was right.

Women have two or three favorite necklaces that go with everything, but they really like to change up their bracelets to match outfits or to complement them. So it's easier to match a bracelet with something than a necklace.

And I was getting ready for my first jewelry party at the time, so I thought why not?

Pictured here are only two of the MANY designs that I have done; the left is the Mix N Match pink bracelet, i.e., a more exciting explosion of charm bracelet. Then on the right is the really simple lentil shell bracelet, which continues to be a favorite and comes in turquoise, white, gray, amber, etc..

And right now I have a really cute stone donut and jump ring bracelet being featured on my website - there's also a great turquoise mother of pearl shell bracelet design that I've sold quite a few of that I have to get up at some point.

Wow, I can make jewelry!

So I'm making earrings, then since I'm also making embroidered pendant necklaces, I decide to try making pretty beaded necklaces, too. I got a jewelry book for my birthday of last year, and started getting inspired by putting my own twist on some of their designs

My style just kind of came though: What I didn't like in the sample pieces in those books, I improved it to make it mine. The process was fantastic, and I really enjoyed it; I still do!!

A few highlights of my most popular pieces: I have this *dangly* necklace design, which is composed of mostly jump rings with stones hanging down. I also have a great mix n' match bracelet design (which is basically a crazy charm bracelet that I absolutely love, being connected by funky wired hoops), and lastly, a cluster necklace design that uses primarily sperical beads of the same color scheme. I also have some wire wrapped seaglass necklaces, and I love shells (turquoise especially!)

The fashion of it is very exciting - I like beads for pieces that are chunky, shiny, and different. Anything to stand out. Always :)

Earrings, earrings earrings!!

I have to say that the most popular item I have now are my earrings. They are unique, one-of-a-kind designs that I make sure to set at a reasonable price. It's important to me that people be able to afford my pieces, especially in an economy like this.

How I got started with these was actually due to my negligence of my own jewelry. I know, bad. I'm always losing earrings, misplacing one and having to trash the other. So while shopping for perhaps my 8th replacement hoop earrings, it occured to me how picky I was in terms of my style. Basically, I know what I like and I know that I could make it.

Consequently, I had an internship at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA at this time, and right down the street is a Beadworks Shop that I happened to stumble into.

I. Was. So. Excited. There were beads of every single color, and I tended towards the natural stones and textured beads the most. From there, I started small, buying beads for one pair of earrings at a time on my lunch break like once a week. It was fun mixing and matching beads, colors, styles, textures, and I always created things that I would wear.

So for about a year now, I've had a mobile rack of earrings that I take to shows, all pairs priced at 10.00. I've noted what is popular, but I always like coming up with something different.

I've actually also been tossing around an idea for my etsy site: that being a "virtual earring rack", in which case I would photograph my earring rack full of approx. 30 earring pairs, then as they get sold I would update the photo. I'll let that cook for a while and may implement it later, so stay tuned!

How I Got Started - The SMFA Sidewalk Sale, 2008

Ah, the SMFA Sidewalk Sale of 2008.

As my first art sale, it was kind of a disaster. I sat at a table for two days, 10-5, and sold two things. Do you know what it's like to sell two things in 15 hours?
Yeah, not fun :(

I had put out some great bags that I embroidered from me & my mom's business - They're being featured in an associate's, Cindy Cheever-Nichols who owns Mermaids at Duxbury Bay Boutique. We've sold a bunch, and I'll be sure to get some images up ASAP.

So I was selling those, some prints from a color photo class, and lastly some images I created using pointillism. Pointillism is a technique involving the buildup of dots of ink to create depth and perspective. I took this great Film Noir class, and I got so inspired with the stark contrasts of lights in dark with the imagery of the movies, and I set up a few images to reflect this (one of my images, above) I got a ton of positive feedback, and so I priced them and put them out to sell.

And I continued to get a ton of positive feedback, but just no sales. And I could not lower the price because of the nature of the technique; the dots take a long time to build up. It sounds crazy to do, but it's actually quite a meditative process. I fell in love with it in high school, and I also picked it up again in tribute to my art teacher. Yeah, AWHS!

Anyway, back on track -

So as I was sitting there, watching everyone else making sales, my brain started concocting things. There was a diverse set of things being sold at this sale, by a great deal of talented people - like jewelry, and fun unique things that were different. So, I kind of started thinking how to make embroidery into jewelry.
Without revealing too much, that is how I came up with my signature product, the embroidered necklace!! They're really edgy, have a dinstinctive look, and I have a lot of flexibility in terms of what I can embroider on them. I recycled fabric from quilters, braided rope for the necklace, and sewed patches onto custom made-backs.

So there you are! I sold a great deal of them at this year's Sidewalk Sale, and plan to continue to :) My big selling categories are horoscope signs, the peace signs, and the "green" design. Check them out on my etsy site!

"The Family Business" - And yes, it's exactly as it sounds

I got my entrepreneurial spunk and creativity from my parents, and I have to give them credit in this post.

My Dad is amazing. Ever since I was little, I remember being able to bring him anything that was broken, and he could fix it. Like my CD Walkman, which he fixed with a fork and a piece of string. Don't ask.

He also got really involved in projects with me; like I was an angel for a Christmas pagent, and Dad made these crazy cardboard wings that he spray-painted gold and white (airbrushed to look like feathers, of course). He then attached clear fishing string from my wings to little hoops around my thumbs, so that when I moved my thumbs up and down, the cardboard wings would flap.

I'm telling you, absolutely amazing! He's now doing marine canvas and upholstery work, so PLEASE let me know if you need work done, because he is the best, GUARANTEED! He also does a bazillion other things, like make awesome signs and repaints names on boats.

Mom is also one of the most intelligent, passionate and strong women I have ever known in my life. We have co-founded a company together called "Dock This Way Embroidery & Design". She is a saleswomen, very charismatic and inspiring. She's quick on her feet, and worked in corporate situations where she handled clients and stressful people VERY well. She's also got a great eye for color, and does a great deal of interior design work. Pictured here is an item from our *intimate apparel* collection, of cute underwear and PJs...I think its a nice nautical depiction on the butt :)

Dock This Way is a customizable merchandise shop that we are currently negotiating a lease in the new Launch in the Hingham Ship Yard.

We may or may not factor in the constant playing of Aerosmith throught our store in our business plan :)

(Get it? DOCK THIS WAY!!! Ha ha...)

Pictured above: Left, my dad re-upholstered this entire chair. Right, one of the embroidered PJ sets.

Intention of The Ash Tree *Design* Blog

So I wanted to elaborate on some of the concepts driving my company. This blog all about a culminating art student’s development; I wanted to shed some light on my process and why I do what I do.

When it comes to my art, I have to say that I am a realist. I love portraying people and faces, and I have experience with many different media, including oils, acrylics, watercolors, pastel, and charcoal. However, I am flexible, as I have also completed landscapes or architectural images for commissions (I did this great pencil drawing of a newlywed's house that was made into stationary for a wedding gift!).

Art makes me happy, it always has - you know that you love something when you are the happiest when doing it, or doing it relaxes you after a horrible day. Based on this, I decided to go to art school, and picked the Museum School of Fine Arts, Boston, because of its affiliation with the prestigeous Tufts University and joint programs - I'm a big academic.

That being said, I love to learn and generate new ideas, try new media, and tackle unfamiliar subject matter - I LOVE a challenge!! I have a ridiculous "I can do it!" attitude, no matter what the project. So this blog is a means to keep track of them and allow my customers and potential clients to better understand what's going on in my head. Scary, I know :)

What’s in a name?

Ash Tree Creations -

So I came up with this name about a year ago, and it was after much much much thought and consideration. I wanted a name that would be me - so what better way to do this than to take the literal meaning of my name, "Ashley", which means "From the Ash Tree Meadow"?

I still love the name. My work is still earthy and rustic, focusing on the natural beauty of stones, shells, sea glass, etc. I also deal with a lot of symbolism in my jewelry pieces, especially the embroidered jewelry. So Ash Tree -It's simple, grounding, and completely me.

However, now being in business for a year and looking back, the "Creations" sounds too cutesy and like I make cute little things for cute little fairs. Irritating. So I wanted to switch recently to "Design", but I think that's like a graphic design company somewhere or something. So I'm not sure - maybe I should just stick to what inspired me originally, which was "From the Ash Tree Meadow".

I think I like it.

It's All About Me!

So, who am I?

My name is Ashley, and I still use a paper agenda. It's pink.
I love accessorizing.
If I'm not multitasking or overwhelmed, I'm probably bored or frustrated.
I don't believe I'm given enough opportunities to wear dresses.
I may seem all over the place, but I know exactly what I' m doing and what I want.

Now that you know the essentials...
I am an art student at the School of the Museum School of Fine Arts, Boston. I'm anticipating a BFA in 2010, with a minor in Entrepreneurial Leadership from Tufts University. I feel as though this blog would be a great supplement to my etsy, linked in, and facebook profile pages to better understand me as an artist, and what my intentions are with my work.

I've also had a pretty great last few years, and I think if I can walk you through via documentation, you can better understand where I'm coming from, and where I'm going.

I'm an artist, so naturally I have about 40 new project ideas bouncing around my head at the same time. This blog will also be a valuable tool to bounce off new ideas - I'm the kind of person that has a bazillion great ideas, and wants to do them all at once, all the time. What I've learned about myself is to leave it alone, further think about it and flesh it out, then if I'm still excited about it in a few days, get started.

If I haven't lost you yet, good for you. Keep reading, it gets better.


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