Friday, February 27, 2015

State of Play

OK, my Etsy shop will remain closed until Esty reinstate the Art Doll or Doll as Adult Collectible item categories that they so recently abolished without any consultation with their sellers and no warning. Or at least give us an alternative that let's us comply with Trading Standards regulations. I have a lot of new items almost finished but simply cannot risk having someone buy them believing they are suitable for a child now that they have been recategorised as TOYS by the numpty's at Etsy. When bombarded with reminders that this breaks EU Trading Standards regulations and also US legislation, Etsy's pathetic response has been that as sellers it is our responsibility to state clearly that our items are not toys. DOH!!! It's like something out of a farce! As one disgruntled seller commented on the already 220+ page spleen venting thread, that's like a grocery store putting Whiskey in the beverage aisle among all the pops and assuming there will be no repercussions 'because it says Alcohol on it".

My confidence in Etsy staff to sort out this mess was not strengthened by a video chat with two of their Tweenie staff, a girl who seemed surprised by almost every word coming from her own mouth and a tattooed toddler in a beany hat (seriously, indoors?) who thought everything was "awesome!" It's not AWESOME, darling, it looks like a big pile of steaming cat doo-doo from where I am standing! Some hair raising reading on the recent changes Etsy have made in the last few years here and here, I used to love Etsy so much and just want it back like it used to be when it was about Handmade.

I am investigating other options and may even list the new items on this blog for sale in the next few weeks. I am holding off paying Folksy any more listing fees for the new items after I took a stroll through the chat forums and the vibe is generally not that positive, with lots of complaints from sellers about the fact that Folksy don't advertise and so traffic is quite low. A Folksy representative did take the time to explain that their revenue from sales is tiny so that it means they effectively have no adverting budget... seems a very odd business model to me.

Right now, creating my own website again with a shopping cart seems attractive but I need to do more research, watch this space... plus I will soon be showing more prototypes for the upcoming Coach House workshops and some new dolls... I refuse to be beaten :o)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Etsy Sadness

This morning I moved my 2 vintage bottle Art Dolls to my new Folksy shop, to give it a try and see how things work over there. Sad that there is no category for "Adult Collector's Bears, Dolls and Miniatures" at Folksy... but then there is no longer one on Etsy either. Just have to give it a try though and have reduced the price on these 2 dolls. They had to be listed as "Art- Sculpture- People" which isn't ideal but do come up under the search for "Art Doll"... only 4 pages, and mainly seems to be lace and elastic supplies... go figure as they say!

I am so sad at the things happening at Etsy right now. I have been there for years, both as Nightshade Dolls and my first shop "Freaky Little Things". I have always loved the clean look of the site and the low fees. It was really dedicated to small home businesses, artist and crafters and felt like a community with a shared spirit a lot of the time. I hope those things resurface but sadly, of late, those things seem to be getting lost.

The first really worrying difference in attitude was when they decided to change the definition of 'Handmade' from "handmade by you" to "handmade by some poor soul in Asia on a slave wage"... how is that any different to "Mass Produced"? At least a third of all the items you see in High Street shops now qualify to be listed on Etsy and it is becoming impossible for genuine crafters to get seen in the sea of mass produced tat now masquerading as "handmade".

The biggest shame for me personally has been this weeks sudden category changes. They have caught a lot of us on the hop and I wasn't happy to find that my adult collectible "Art Dolls" had suddenly been reclassified by Etsy as "Toys" and lumped in with all the children's dolls. This puts me in a very dodgy position regarding Trading Standards, my dolls are definitely not suitable for children but thanks to Etsy, the association is being made in potential buyers minds. Most of the sellers affected (Dolls, Bears, Doll House Miniatures) are busy lobbying etsy staff and there has finally been an announcement that this category will be looked into in March. I hope they finally create a distinction between "Adult Collectibles" and "Toys" to keep those looking for child safe items well away from our listings and so we can all comply with the Law.

Bad timing, as after a year away from doll making I currently have quite a little mountain of bodies and limbs on my work desk right now and was expecting to start listing new dolls from mid March. I want to stay in love with Etsy but I guess the move to Folksy is a trial separation :o(

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Water Nymph" prototype for doll workshops

I've finished plans for my first 1 day workshop at The Coach House, Caerwys, to be held on Saturday May the 2nd. "Water Nymphs" are meant to be fresh water mermaids (in my mind anyway) which allows for plenty of decorative opportunities involving flowers, butterflies, dragonflies, etc... I will probably produce a few more and list them in my shop between then and now.  Hope to see you there! :o)


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Workshop prototype

Here is a sneak peak at the first prototype for the doll i will be doing at the first workshop at The Coach House. A mini Mermaid, she involves basic needle sculpting on the tail, collage, painting and drawing and simple button jointed arms. She is fun and quite quick to make. I added more hair in photoshop... I like to take photos of prototypes and live with them a day or two, helps me to see how things need tweaking. I have another 3 stuffed and ready to decorate so the design will evolve before the Workshops are held :o)



Thursday, February 5, 2015

a fork in the road

I am writing this mostly as a statement to myself that I can't go back on.

I have reduced the price on many items in my shop for February and once mad old March arrives I will be permanently de-listing any hats and all the current designs of Paper dolls/cards. I love making hats and have 4 more to finish but they simply take too much time and cost rather a lot in materials to make so will have to go. The paper dolls have been around for a while now and though popular they do not really reflect me as an artist, so they too will go.

As a child I painted, drew and produced short illustrated stories.... I can't show you them because I sold them all, and not even to doting family members! I was lucky enough to be encouraged by older painters and artists I encountered. So as a child I was selling art and was always convinced that I would be a painter when I grew up. Difficult teenage years and time at an Art College that was a very bad fit for own increasing lack of confidence ripped that certainly to tatters and I painted sporadically and rarely as an adult. I am not from a well off background and knew I needed to earn the rent from day one once college was over, so upped sticks and moved to London and hawked round a folio of work I had put together over the previous few months... nothing from college survived as I had set fire to it all! A lot of paintings have gone on the bonfire since that day.

I was lucky that back in the mid-80's most of the design groups and Ad agencies were in a small patch of the West End and within a few days I had my first freelance job (the client had to explain to me what an invoice was!). I produced a cover for the UK video release of "Murder in the Rue Morgue" starring George C Scott and I like to think that my cover design was only as awful as the movie! I have rarely stopped since then, there have been ups and downs of course and many, many part time jobs to supplement my income during the lean times. The move to working on Mac was both a huge leap forward and a big step back. Clients now have crazy expectations of what you can produce in next to no time and deadlines are always for "tomorrow's meeting" or the terrifying ASAP! It has become a lot more stressful in the last few years at a time when my own length of tooth means I am slowing down. I need my personal work to be a relaxing, enjoyable hobby almost, and if it sells great, but that won't be the first consideration.

So, my big leap of faith is that I am only going to produce dolls/art/whatever in one consistant style from now on. Because of my 'commercial' background my personal work is all over the place stylistically because I am forever having to shift gear to accommodate what the client needs. That is a very useful skill but has kind of gotten in the way of finding MY own aesthetic. I feel that during the last few months of experimenting I am close to a new change of direction. So from the end of march the only things that go in the etsy shop will reflect that new look.

The canvases I have begun dabbling with (yes PAINTING AGAIN) and my dolls are already undergoing a change. Hopefully they will be ready to face the world shortly. Even the dolls I am working on for the workshops have that same tone... I am giving up on doll hats but am going to try my hand at BJD clothing and I guess the odd hat may be included in outfits, but no longer sold alone. I want that clothing to reflect the new ideas I have too. It's just something I need to try. Wish me luck :o)

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shop Update this evening

... at 7pm UK time (GMT)... plus, lots of items in the shop reduced throughout February :o)


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Art Doll Workshops

Still finalising the patterns and prototypes for my doll workshops but here is the kind of doll we would be working towards. She has a cloth body (great for sewing clothes and her hairstyle to) with long spindly paper clay limbs. She has a bit of antiquing and lots of crackle glaze too. This particular doll has an outfit made from some vintage scraps, vintage embroidered hankies and doilies. Workshop dolls would not have the vintage elements supplied  and the dress would be more straightforward, but if anyone wanted to bring along their own vintage scraps then we could look at ways of incorporating them. I hope these work shops will lead to everyone going away with a doll quite unique to them.... more soon (and a better photo  - it's snowing again!)