Sunday, May 17, 2015

"The artist's world is limitless.

 It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep. 
~Paul Strand
In today's socially connected world, that quotation could be reworked for those of us who buy for our independent shops.  We have the advantage of seeing creative spirits from the local town to the global city.  On Facebook, some of the people do "share" days where shop owners and others can share pages.  Since there is usually a share day going on every day on someone's Facebook page, it is easy to drop in and see what people are doing.

Arletta of SewExtraOrdinarySewist made me think about the artists who create.  I saw her work on Facebook, and I inquired if she sold to shops...and...voila!  Prairie Pouches for my customers...made in America...a blend of old and new!  She designs using vintage doilies and handkerchiefs blended with new and vintage fabrics to create zippered clutches for 21st century needful things.  The ones I saw were smaller, and I asked for larger ones.  Can't call the factory in China and do that!

Etsy opened an online shopping mall in 2005 that originally focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies, and by 2013 it allowed "unique" factory-manufactured items.  In 2014, Etsy garnered a revenue of $195.6 million which is made from taking a 3.5% fee of 3.5% of sale value, which an Etsy seller pays for each completed transaction, and a listing fee of 20 Cents per item. 'Seller Services', Etsy's fastest growing revenue stream, includes fees for services such as Promoted Listings, payment processing and purchases of shipping labels through the platform. They also have a wholesale link, but I will just contact someone there and say, "love your work-do you wholesale?" Never hurts to ask!  I have been able to connect with some wonderful artists through "the box" as I call the electronic world.  I found some creative spirits there. From a woman in Oregon who uses driftwood pieces and lace to create sailboats as well as hand cutting birds and attaching to clothespins...all at reasonable prices!
 Or, how about birdhouses from Mississippi barns?
The typewriter jewelry-an Etsy find...
 Although Etsy has been a wonderful venue for artists, some of those artists have become easy marks for some big companies to copy.  Urban Outfitters and, recently, Target have been exposed for taking someone's creative work.  They know the artists have probably not paid for copyright on their work, and their attitude is file a complaint since they have deep pockets for lawyers.  An Oregon woman was recently shocked when a friend texted her a photo of a tank top that was nearly identical to hers.   She hand-printed shirts with the word #Merica within a primitive American flag on them.  Her cost $25 since she is working out of her garage...$12.99 at Target.
Americans cannot work for the same salaries as those in the Chinese factories, and so many people forget that.  Currently there are several sites online promoting buy American, and an interesting statistic from one of the sites states that $700 is spent on gifts, and, if only half were spent on made in USA, up to a million American jobs would be created.

In 1933, a Buy American Act was passed by Congress and signed by President Hoover on his last full day in office (March 3, 1933).  It required the government to prefer US products in its purchasing so this campaign is not new.

When I was researching buy American movements, I was reading about President Hoover, but this made me chuckle..."Franklin D. Roosevelt blasted the Republican incumbent (Hoover) for spending and taxing too much, increasing national debt, raising tariffs and blocking trade, as well as placing millions on the government dole."  Just like antiques, what goes around, comes around, but parties have done role reversals.

Many of the artists work other jobs and have their creative work spaces tucked into their homes. They work around their children, their significant others, and their own issues.  My card maker is dealing with personal illness now.   I have a stash of tags and cards that she sent before she was facing these issues.

Of course, my sea glass artist is a showstopper.  She lives downtown, and I have been to her creative cubby in her home.   But, again, because I can talk to her, I can have earrings to match a birdhouse, or I can ask her to create clip-ons.  

I have another jewelry maker who blends the old and the new, and she spends summers in the area so I can have her creations.

I have a soon-to-be-high school graduate learning the trade...
And a skilled craftsman who took a vintage bookcase and updated it...
He also crafted some wonderful boxes...and, again, I can say...could you do a certain color...
 or keep it with a prim look.
Bernie takes my ideas and turns them into reality...he is working on benches to accommodate some sweet cushions I got from Jeanne D'Arc.

Another local woman works with pallets...
And, I have a local artisan who old drawer bottoms made into mini chalkboards or boxes decoupaged with napkins.  Here again, I can say to Cheryl, take these unfinished boxes Bernie has made, some wonderful French napkins and create...they will be coming soon!
She has also learned to do some good woodworking...check the grey corbel hanging on the antique shutter...her design from scratch...
So, when you see the Made in America tag, think beyond the price tag...granted, not everything can be made here, but, support the small entrepreneur not just the factory worker overseas.  When you see someone's special designs and products, remember the person does not have a factory in the backyard nor do they hide their earnings in offshore accounts.   A "Prairie Pouch" holds more than stuff; it holds someone's hard work and heart.
“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.”  
~Francis of Assisia


Elyse said...

hooray for beautiful brick and mortar shops, like yours, and for talented makers everywhere like sweet arletta!


Susan said...

Thank you! I appreciate the artisans!

Unknown said...

Elyse, you are too kind, thank you!

Unknown said...

Everyone's work is so beautiful! Well said! Thank you so much, Susan! I can't say enough. I appreciate people like you that support the artisans.