Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Soon will be soon, honest

Apologies to anyone who has been checking into my website for the last 6 weeks or so only to see this message (below)... OK, so the word "soon" might be rather loosely interpreted here but www.freakylittlethings.com will be back before the end of the month, I promise!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cr*p Craft Products - a buyers AVOID guide

Back in the dark days before Britain was invaded by the big US style chain "hobby"  stores it used to be so straightforward to buy art equipment. There were just a few brands and all aimed at the Beardy-pipe-smoking-beret-wearing "Professional/Amateur Artist" (Cow Gum anyone?) and only available to buy at specialist Art stores or very big branches of WH Smiths.... OK, so a complete lack of choice - and if you lived out in the sticks like me, involving a rather long and hazardous bus journey (my pipe once set my fake beard alight!)  - but at least you knew when you bought a product from Winsor & Newton and the like,  it would do what they claimed it would do... and I, for one, saved a lot of money.

These days I find myself scampering around the aircraft hanger sized hobby superstores (sans disguise for this, if there ever was one, is the preserve of the menopausal woman!)  dazzled by the promise of all that glittery, cracquel-glazed flim-flam. Hyper-ventilating at the thought of what I could create with all this stuff when I get home. There are virtually no stand alone products of course, most come in great big ranges with a ridiculous array of choices and the majority have an accompanying video tutorial, each narrated by very S-L-O-W  T-A-L-K-I-N-G American who explains, very slowly and deliberately, how to use their product (and all it's accompanying sister products - do they repeat the BRAND NAME every few seconds  because they worry the audience for their product is senile I wonder?) to do something very simple that could easily be achieved far more cheaply with PVA glue and some acrylic paint. But they won't tell you that, slowly, or otherwise.

Anyhow, I am not disparaging this whole "hobby/craft/self taught artist boom" as a big business opportunity, I am just as much a sucker for it all as the next middle aged woman, BUT, how often do these products actually live up to the claims? By my experience alone, not very often at all.

Take this product for instance. I bought it a while back but earlier today followed the directions to the letter and look at the wonderful matt finish I have achieved on the lips and eye rims of my newly painted Dollstown Estella BJD head.... well, if we redefine the word MATT as meaning "really bl**dy shiny". This sculpt has huge lips, so the last thing I wanted to do was give them a gloss finish, her eyes were meant to provide the drama... I'm not even sure how I am going to fix this.

My tip: avoid buying Decoart Duraclear Varnish - Matt at all costs, unless you really want GLOSS, that is!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bl**dy Copycats!!!!

I am trying to be all sang-froid about the fact that someone is merrily copying my buccaneer hats and posting them on a doll forum telling everyone how much she is enjoying making these British Naval inspired hats... really, really??? No, MINE were British Naval inspired - but yours, dear lady are just copies of mine. Mine = Inspired, yours = Copied! British Naval Hats don't have trims like that do they? They don't have long ribbons dangling from each corner, and they aren't made of blue or pink felt! I know this because I spent ages on museum websites saving pics and have a whole folder of photos of the real thing on my desktop and even sat through countless historical dramas including Master and Commander twice, just to LOOK AT THE HATS! (Ok, so maybe with that last one I was really looking Russel Crowe in knee breeches).... and breathe....

A friend assures me that hers are not as well made and look like tea cosies wheras mine are actually solidly and traditionally constructed buckram and wire hats with felt over, it's just the crazy front and back brims that have an element of fantasy... and I shouldn't forget that actually it was looking at the work of superb French Doll artist Julien Martinez that started me off anyway...

What the hell, who cares? Who gives a damn to try and do anything creative these days when whatever you come up with will be brazenly copied by some Bessy-no-brains, who will then list them at half the price and crow to everyone how wonderful her creations are and talk about her inspirations to anyone who will listen? I give a damn actually and am just clinging on to the FACT that the point of art for an artist is in the process of creation, not the end result. That time we spend messing around and forming something straight from our own imagination is the real core of being an artist. It's what makes us tick... and boy am I ticking right now.... Look out, she's gonna blow! Tick tick BOOM

Normal service will be resumed after tea and biscuits

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tituba finished

I finished Tituba the Witch Candlestick doll last night and have just finished listing her in my etsy shop. Today wasn't a great day to take pictures but I might not get a chance again until the weekend. If so I might replace some of the pictures in the listing then.

Anyway, I have listed her with UK postage option only for now but will get quotes for overseas shipping tomorrow and add the options then. Here she is:

Pricing - a thorny topic!

Pricing an art doll to sell - always a nightmare!

There are so many people out there who claim to be artists then in the next breath they write themselves off by pricing their work at rates so low that they barely cover the cost of materials. I have come across many such people and have even asked them why they do this. They say that it is something they love doing and would do it even if they weren't being paid... or that it's just a hobby... or that they have a husband/partner who pays all the bills and so they don't need the money.

Some of us very much need the money. For some of us this is the day job. I might earn most of my income as a freelance designer but I need to earn money from my dolls as well. It's a hobby I simply couldn't afford if I didn't sell. I would need to go out and get a part time job again as I so often have done over the years.

When I first started making dolls, about 7 years ago, I never thought of selling them. In fact the very first doll I sold was just on my handmade bag stall at a craft fair as decoration. A lady fell in love with her and paid me as much for the doll as the bag she had originally come to buy. I was a bit flummoxed even then as to what I should sell for. You add up all the materials, even the power you use in lighting etc... that bit is straight forward. Then total up all hours of your time that went into making the doll... and what price do you put on that? I certainly can't ask the same hourly rate as I get for my design work, I would never sell a single doll!

Then there is a natural fluctuation over time. Back in the craft fair days I started putting one of two cloth dolls on my stall and priced them quite high, as my income was mainly from the bags I didn't mind if they never sold, a big like my paintings. They all sold. Then I the craft fair circuit went through a lull for various reasons and so I started to list dolls on ebay. They did NOT sell. I decided they were too pricey for that market (this was about 5 or 6 years ago) and there were nowhere near as many people making oddball/gothic dolls back then, certainly not in the UK. So I revised my patterns and made the head bigger, to accommodate much larger eyes (make them all about the face rather than elaborate costuming) and stopped using vintage/antique fabrics, simplified everything. I could make them more quickly and for less outlay, so priced them much cheaper. They started to sell on Ebay. I just wasn't as happy with what I was making anymore and decided that Ebay just wasn't the right place for me.

So then I moved to etsy, a better fit, and my dolls began to evolve into the cloth/paperclay versions I enjoy making now. They are incredibly time consuming. I love this method though. Last Christmas I made 5 paperclay doll torso's over vintage glass bottles and sold two immediately to friends, one I kept and the other two were listed in my etsy shop... where they have sat all year gathering metaphorical dust and favourites. If it wasn't for those favourites, and the many treasuries they have been featured in, I would just assume they aren't liked. After such a long time and no sales, I must assume it's the price that's putting people off. Today, I halved the prices of both dolls. A valuable lesson, in this bad economy people just don't have the money to spare and I again need to simplify my dolls I guess. I wonder about trotting out my original cloth doll pattern and try making that first style again maybe? I will give the paperclay a rest after finishing the dolls on my work desk and go back to where it all started and hope to finally make a sale this year! Fingers crossed!