Thursday, July 29, 2010

New Camera

I recently moved up to my first digital SLR camera - Canon's newest model - T2i. Getting this camera was not easy. It was released this March and almost immediately sold out everywhere. It took until just recently for me to get a hold of one of my own. I did a lot of research and looked and tried a number of cameras until I decided that this is the one. One major factor was price range. You can purchase a DSLR anywhere from $500 to $4000. My budget was $1000 and I wanted to get the most for the money at the best quality. For those who are not heavily into photography, a DSLR is a digital camera with interchangeable lenses and what you see in the viewfinder is not an electronic representation of what the camera sees but the actual view through the lens brought to the viewfinder with a mirror. Essentially, what you see is what you get - with the ability to make any adjustment possible in exposure, lighting, tone, depth of field, etc. Way back before digital cameras I did shoot a film SLR - which I still have - but let's face it with the ability to shoot digitally whatever you see at no cost in film or developing - well.

I have been shooting professionally with a Canon that is in-between a DSLR and a Point in Shoot and all of the photos that I have sold up to now have been with that camera. I have even won photo competitions with that camera and have gallery displayed my work. But it was time to make the move and now with 18 megapixels and a high tech camera I am hoping to expand both my market and my ability to capture what I see.

Here is a photo from my first excursion out to take pictures.

The photo was actually the worst of the pictures that I took that day and I decided to improve what little I had with photo software. Why did I pick the worst shot to show you? To show what is possible both with the camera and the ability to manipulate a photograph after it is taken. I must say that in the end it came out pretty good - and is offered for sale both at a Stock Photography site and at my page on Red Bubble.

This picture was taken with a 18 to 55 mm zoom lens - the standard lens included with the camera when you purchase what the camera companies call the "kit" meaning that it includes the camera body and a lens from the manufacturer. This is the "kit" lens. I also purchased a longer zoom lens - 55 to 250 mm. This lens I am finding is more versatile when outdoors as it can bring the distance in close and still has a decent wide angle view.

What I am finding out most is that I have a lot to learn about this camera, but so far the results have been very pleasing. As time goes along I will be showing more photos on my various sales sites from this new, great camera.

If you are thinking about getting more seriously into photography this is a camera to definitely check out - Canon T2i.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Trying to Find a Real Craft Show

It is harder and harder to find a craft show that makes sure that all that is being offered for sale is actually handmade by the artist who is selling in the booth. We no longer will do a craft show that we have not seen in advance. We attend many shows - walk through the entire show and count how many people selling are selling commercial imports and the numbers are staggering.

We have stop doing most shows that we have done over the years. The few that we do have remained with a majority of real craft being sold but those shows have their growing share of commercial import vendors. One has to question why even call these craft shows at all. Some shows that had wonderful reputations for many years have now started to call themselves craft and gift show because the majority of vendors are selling commercially made items - known in the retail industry as "buy and sell".

Are there fewer craftspeople? Certainly not. What there are - are more people who are out of work who have decided that it is easy to wholesale purchase imports and sell them at craft shows. Some will be very open about what they are selling - offering them in their commercial packaging with the Made in China stickers in place on the items themselves. Some think they are pulling something on the public and when asked if they have made something say yes - and that something is what was seen on the infomercial the night before being sold for $19.99 and you get two plus all of these extras. Really - one guy insisted he made the pocketbooks with the insides that move from bag to bag - just ignore those packing cartons with the commercial name of the product on them under the table. These people think they are pulling something on the craft-buying public and I guess they are because they are there at the craft show selling and people are buying.

I have been asked why can't the two - real craft and buy and sell items go together at a show. The reason is very simple - there is no way to compete. I can purchase from a catalog at wholesale very attractive jewelery that I could sell and make a good profit for at two for ten dollars. And I have seen vendors at craft shows selling exactly this. Now, if it takes me an hour to make a handmade necklace and it costs me ten dollars in materials, how could I sell that necklace at two for $10 to compete with the import seller? There is no way.

I have been at craft shows - very prestigious craft shows - where a customer will come up and ask if I make what they are looking at in my booth. I have to say "of course" which is the truth - but just that someone is asking me and the rest of the real crafts people selling is an indication that something is really wrong. I have seen other legitimate crafts people put signs up that say, "We make everything that we sell." How sad to have to do that at a craft show.

There had been a problem in some states around what could be called a "flea market" and what should not be and some states passed laws about the use of the name "flea market". When the same has been proposed by the craft community about the name "craft show" it has been ignored.

I wish I had an answer. The best that you can do is let the promoters at a craft show know that the people who are selling are not selling crafts - but you know what has happened when I have done that - the response is " So?"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


This is a very unusual craft - an ancient craft brought to modern application. Come and meet

Here is our interview with the artist, Jessica:

Briefly describe what you make?

I make handmail chainmaille jewelry, key chains, and lanyards.

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

I work with bright aluminum, anodized aluminum, enameled copper, and sterling silver.

How long have you been creating craft?

I first learned the art in August of 2009, after my doctor told me I needed a hobby.

How did you get started?

I bought a book and taught myself from that book, other books and the internet.

Where does the name of your shop come from?

Since chainmaille deals mostly in metal, i wanted to represent that with a regal association, such as the reign of a monarch.

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I am completely self-taught and despite having a medical condition that hinders my craft, I still love making jewelry!

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

Dont give up. Keep experimenting and putting yourself out there. You will never go anywhere if no one can find you.


Well, short on words but big on talent. Come see Metal Reign!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Our featured artist takes something old and makes it into something new. Come and meet

Here is our interview with the artist, Lorraine -

Briefly describe what you make?

I (mostly) make clothing and accessories and all of my items are created with upcycled materials. This has its upsides and downsides – the downside being that an item cannot be re-made exactly as the original and the upside is that each item is truly one of a kind!

What mediums do you enjoy working in most?

Any fibers, textiles, jewelry, notions or other salvaged items. I am addicted to rescuing otherwise forgotten and discarded items and I use the characteristics of the existing pieces to inform my designs - the final piece evolves during the creation process and often ends up quite different from the original concept!

How long have you been creating craft?

I cannot remember a time that I didn’t create – from my very earliest memories of spending hours making simple daisy chains through painting, sculpting and altered art, I have always created. I grew up helping my Mum sew my dance costumes and learning photography from my Dad – I can still remember going into the attic where the darkroom was and watching the magical process of pictures appearing on a blank sheet of paper (pre-digital of course!).

How did you get started?

Hmmm – I’d love to give you a wonderfully profound story, but the truth is my creations and collections of found treasures were starting to take over the house! With much encouragement from friends and family I decided to overcome my fear and “put myself out there” as an artist/designer. Although the fear still lingers, I love it! I can create to my heart’s content and I no longer have to secretly squirrel away my finds or feel guilty about constantly hunting for treasures!

Where does the name of your shop come from?

I moved to Canada from England and it always made me laugh when my brothers referred to my move as “hopping across the pond”. I later realized that “pondhopper” was actually a well used term for expats who moved to a country across the ocean from their own! Anyways, I thought it would be appropriate and decided to pair it with “studio” which is admittedly a rather grand name for my little room where all my designs are brought to life!

As a child our family travelled by ferry (long before the Chunnel was built!) from Dover to Calais every year and then camped throughout Europe for our summer holiday. There were always seagulls that accompanied the ferry across the “pond” so I decided to incorporate a seagull as imagery for my shop. I also liked the message of the 1970’s book Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach about the seagull that didn’t want to be one of the crowd and aspired to greater things, and as seagulls are natural scavengers, it seemed to fit! I spent a morning sitting outside our local Tim Hortons taking pictures of the seagulls that were waiting to scoop up doughnut crumbs before I finally snapped the seagull you see in my shop banner.

What would you most want people to know about your work?

I love the whispers of lingering stories in my work and the way they make each piece so very unique - one of my customers told me that she loved wearing my designs because they inspired her, I hope that my work passes on a bit of that feeling to each new owner.

What words of advice do you have for other artists?

Be brave . listen to your heart . don’t stress when your muse goes silent for a while . share . push through barriers . have fun . be generous with your hugs


This is truly a unique shop and you must see it!