Archive for the ‘Arts & Crafts’ Category

Service of One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Is Etsy Too Big?

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Photo: Greymount Paper & Press

I was in awe of the Etsy platform when it launched 15 years ago as “a virtual storefront for hipsters’ arts and crafts” as Taylor Majewski wrote in It went public in 2015 and describes itself as “an American e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and craft supplies. These items fall under a wide range of categories, including jewelry, bags, clothing, home décor and furniture, toys, art, as well as craft supplies and tools.”

According to, last year it reported 2.5 million sellers and 39.4 million buyers around the world.

I’ve loved and bought crafts for decades, promoted one of the big east coast shows for years and was thrilled that talented artisans had another vital way to expand their customer bases and generate sales.

Something happened. Carlene Gleman founder, artist and owner of Greymount Paper & Press, described her predicament in a series of Facebook postings. If her name and company are familiar it’s because I featured her in “Service of Ordering Online During a Pandemic,” last month.

Gleman claims that Etsy’s new off-site advertising program has “directly led to our artwork being repeatedly stolen.”  She found over 20 instances of theft in three months. Before Etsy introduced this new program, it had only happened once in five years.

Photo: Greymount Paper & Press

While the platform appears to be helping promote some of its successful vendors’ products without repercussions, for a business like Greymount based on an artist’s creations, it is at huge cost. She said while the company’s new marketing approach should work for furniture makers, for example, “it creates trouble for shops whose artwork can be stolen with the click of a mouse.”

With a simple fix her work wouldn’t be in jeopardy, but in the last year, the brand has begun to insist on 2,000px high-resolution images for all listings. “A thief can download, copy, and easily remove watermarks from photos with this resolution,” said Gleman. “Lower resolution images, which Etsy allowed in the past, discourage theft by largely preventing enlargement and printing.”

Sellers who generate $10,000 gross profit according to Etsy’s calculations, [they include postage in the sales total!], must participate in Etsy’s new offsite marketing program, and, Gleman reports, are excluded from the platform’s internal search engine. [You know–the toolbar that helps you find “greeting cards” or “art featuring otters.”]

Upon learning about the new program, Gleman immediately turned off all advertising for her shop, to prevent her listing images from appearing on websites thought to be resources for copyright theft.

She checked her seller dashboard after she realized that her images were being stolen from her Etsy listings. She was incurring advertising fees. “Etsy was blasting my artwork across the web without my knowledge.”

She has hired a lawyer to fight the art thieves and has turned off her Etsy shop, permanently. She now sells her greeting cards, art prints, and gifts exclusively through her own website.

“See if an artist has a website and if it’s possible purchase through them directly,” Gleman recommends. She has decided to never again sell on a 3rd party platform that forces her to participate in advertising programs where she can’t control where her artwork appears.

The world of craft is diverse. The marketers at Etsy aren’t taking this into account. Do you know of other businesses that have tripped up when they haven’t recognized the differences in their clients?  Can you share other examples of copyright infringement?

Photo: Greymount Paper & Press



The Gift of Giving Back: Handmade Global Design at NY Now

Thursday, August 31st, 2017


Aid Through Trade “Coral Reef”

Charity isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of NY Now, the former NY Gift Show. This August I visited a different section than in previous seasons: Handmade Global Design. Giving back was a recurring theme for many of these exhibitors. In some cases they donate money to charities; in others, through their efforts, lives of poverty and hopelessness are transformed by work, education and access to global markets.

Some were members of the Fair Trade Federation. It describes itself as “part of the global fair trade movement, building equitable and sustainable trading partnerships and creating opportunities to alleviate poverty…by continually and significantly expanding the practice of trade that values the labor and dignity of all people.”

Meyelo’s Fynn Rucksack

I call out two of its some 50 members listed in the directory: Aid Through Trade, one of the Federation’s founding members, and Meyelo.

The original creator of the Roll-On® Bracelet made with glass beads, Aid Through Trade employs 200+ women from Nepal. Founded in 1993 by former Peace Corps volunteer Damian Jones, he recognized that women’s lives changed dramatically when they have an income.

As I passed by Meyelo’s booth, I heard one of the sales staff say to a customer, “Our for profit gives back to our nonprofit.” Eighty women from Kenya make bags, earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, scarves and sandals sold through Meyelo. On its website: “Every purchase provides our artisans with a source of fair trade income, support for their community, and a global platform for their work.….We work in community development with Maasai villages and provide access to education, water, farming co-ops and medical needs. We empower women, girls and their communities with sustainable programs.”

Bella Tunno’s Giraffe Pacifier Lovie

A striking poster caught my eye in the Bella Tunno booth filled with collections of children’s accessories. It touted: “You buy one product, we give one child a meal.” Founded by Michelle Tunno Buelow, the website reports that “A portion of every Bella Tunno product sold is donated to the Matt Tunno Make a Difference Memorial Fund.” To honor her brother Matt, Michelle Buelow’s fund supports drug and alcohol abuse education, prevention and rehabilitation and programs for at-risk children and teenagers.

Aid to Artisans

Aid to Artisans creates opportunities for low-income craftspeople and designers in East Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Central and South Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East and North and Sub-Saharan Africa “to build profitable businesses inspired by handmade traditions.” According to its website, it offers “access to new markets, business training, eco-effective processes and design innovation through a network of partners to promote sustainable growth and community well-being.” The artisans make a range of products from decorative pillows and children’s accessories to desk accessories, ceramic vases, shawls, jewelry, home furnishings and decorative pieces, glassware and ornaments.

“Comfort for a Cause,” is The Elephant Pants Company’s slogan. Founded in 2014, it donates 10 percent of its net profits to save elephants. “Thanks to you, $145,615 has been donated to charitable organizations dedicated to saving elephants,” it declares on its website, as a result of selling over 400,000 pairs of what it says are “The most comfortable pants that anybody had ever worn.”

For a company to combine help for impoverished foreign artisans or to donate a percentage of profits to charity is nothing new but it appears to be a successful approach given the numbers of companies doing it. Do you favor such products when you buy gifts and decorative pieces for your home?

The Elephant Pants Company’s harem pants

Service of Color II

Tuesday, November 15th, 2016

Karen Morris, Dellwood, Minn.

Karen Morris, Dellwood, Minn.

On Lauren Smith wrote “Pantone Predicts the Colors That’ll Be Popular Next Spring–Let’s just say, next year is going to be bold and bright” and called out Flame, Island Paradise, Primrose Yellow and Niagara—the names Pantone gave coral, soft aqua, sunny yellow and denim blue. Pantone calls itself the “authority on color, provider of color systems and leading technology for accurate communication of color.”

Deborah Shedrick, Montgomery, Ala

Deborah Shedrick, Montgomery, Ala

What struck me about the work of some exhibitors at my client’s upcoming American Fine Craft Show at Brooklyn Museum this weekend, November 19-20, is the palpable importance of color—some of those Pantone identified as well as other luscious, succulent ones. Much of the jewelry is inspired by spirited, passionate hues; magical tints enhance ceramics and glass. 

Thomas Marrinson ceramics, Hinesburg, Vt.

Thomas Marrinson ceramics, Hinesburg, Vt.

Color isn’t for everyone and there will be many options for the more conservative shopper in every category. In addition to color, 26 jewelers reference travel, history, nature and their current or previous careers in far-flung industries as impacting their designs. Their expert work transforms precious stones and sheet metal, wire—even textiles and paper—into enchanting decorative enhancements and imaginative gifts.

Julie Shaw, Cocoa, FL.

Julie Shaw, Cocoa, FL.

For those bored by the mostly insipid fashion on today’s clothing racks, a fine craft fair such as this one is a treasure trove of both chic high-end classic and stylish casual wear. Fanciful accents and detailing punctuate one-of-a-kind coats and jackets designed and created by masters of leatherwork, weaving and expert tailoring. Exemplary millinery promises to be a show-stopper and versatile scarves and accessories in the hands of artists and expert fashion designers achieve elegant impact. 

Ethan Abramson, Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Ethan Abramson, Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Furniture artisans at the show speak about their pieces and the elements that go into them as though they are human or a three dimensional reflection of their lives.  Although most of them design and fabricate with wood, there are architectural, handsome steel and aluminum pieces as well.

The furniture makers aren’t alone in their mastery and appreciation of wood. Several exhibitors will sell handmade small decorative and/or functional and at times whimsical pieces that are impossible to bypass without touching.

In addition to furniture, wood objects, art glass and ceramics, there’s more to enhance a home: Fine artists and two sculptors join the artisans this year, achieving a tempting and visual feast just a few days before Thanksgiving.

If cost were no object, where would you look for special gifts for yourself or someone else? Do you value the fine work of artisans and artists and recognize the imagination, skill and time poured into each piece?


Jane Herzenberg, Northhampton, Mass.

Jane Herzenberg, Northhampton, Mass.

Service of Secure Shoppers

Monday, December 1st, 2014

NYCreates Post Card 2MB

A Michigan State University marketing study published by Psychology & Marketing reported by Henri Neuendorf in artnet showed that “men are more likely to positively evaluate an artwork based on the artist’s brand. On the other hand, whilst women also took the artists’ brand into account, they based their evaluation more heavily on the artwork itself.”

While fashion isn’t usually considered art–unless at couture level or made by hand–I know plenty of women who come off more like the men in the study. They will only buy name brands favoring easily identifiable textiles that may even feature recognizable logos. If not, and you admire what they have on, they rarely say, “Thanks,” as they are bursting to share who designed what they’re wearing. They want you to know they’ve spent plenty.

One of the ornaments in the Bird series by Jacobson & Doniger, a collaboration between husband and wife artist/illustrator Nancy Doniger and sculptor Eric Jacobson

One of the ornaments in the Bird series by Jacobson & Doniger, a collaboration between husband and wife artist/illustrator Nancy Doniger and sculptor Eric Jacobson

However if you know where to go, you can come upon treasures painted by unknown artists and remarkable crafts designed and executed by creative, talented artisans. The work you buy can achieve an electrifying impact on your interior design or wardrobe.

Here’s an example:

This weekend–December 6-7–at the Brooklyn Historical Society, NYCreates is producing its 11th annual Holiday Craft Fair. A hop and a skip from Manhattan, in Brooklyn Heights at the Brooklyn Historical Society, some 40 artisans, a photographer and artists will sell their best. NYCreates is a non-profit organization [501c3] founded in 2003 and committed to expand opportunities, visibility and marketability of NYC’s crafts artists and artisans. I’m helping to promote the fair.

Ceramist Alyssa Ettinger’s sweater-patterned porcelain salt cellar is rimmed in 24 carat gold lustre.

Ceramist Alyssa Ettinger’s sweater-patterned porcelain salt cellar is rimmed in 24 carat gold lustre.

You’ll meet ceramist Alyssa Ettinger who knows her way around interior design having pursued a career in magazine publishing for 20 years writing, editing and styling photo shoots covering home design, new products, decor and lifestyle. She threw her first pot at summer camp when she was 14 and today works exclusively in porcelain, a medium she says is “difficult and unforgiving” yet clearly worth the challenge. She describes the material as “translucent when it’s thin enough, letting light shine through.”

You might recognize the work of illustrator Nancy Doniger as it has been published in the New York Times as well as to enhance books both for children and adults. At the craft fair she is collaborating with her husband Eric Jacobsen, a sculptor, selling ornaments from their Bird collection [see photo above right]. Jacobsen creates the birds from metal and Doniger paints them. On her website she writes that her style is “bold with a quirky edge.” Doniger also draws, paints and is a printmaker.

Ceramic Egyptian figure napkin rings by Judith Eloise Hooper.

Ceramic Egyptian figure napkin rings by Judith Eloise Hooper.

NYCreates executive director Judith Eloise Hooper is also a ceramist. She describes herself as “an artist who just likes making things.” She’s been a successful fashion and children’s book illustrator and most recently has designed tabletop collections and ceramic landscapes in her Brooklyn studio. She also manages the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition gallery.

“View from Brooklyn Bridge Park,” watercolor on paper, 12” x 18,” by Alicia Degener

“View from Brooklyn Bridge Park,” watercolor on paper, 12” x 18,” by Alicia Degener

Another artist with a business brain is Brooklyn-based urban landscape artist Alicia Degener who finds the borough is a visual feast and the subject of most of her watercolors, pastels, acrylics and drawings. She co-manages this fair with Hooper. On her website, she writes that “Color and pattern work together combined with odd angles to create landscapes that juxtapose realistic and abstract elements. Strong linear elements and patterns creating movement give the landscapes a rich visual workout.”

Earrings by Bilyana Tosic Petino for Falcon Feather Jewelry.

Earrings by Bilyana Tosic Petino for Falcon Feather Jewelry.

Bilyana Tosic Petino of Falcon Feather Jewelry, attributes the style of her work to her Mediterranean upbringing. She says that her simple organic jewelry is made with a few basic materials, primarily sterling silver, soft leather cords, and semiprecious stones and makes pieces that adapt to the natural contours of a woman’s body. Her philosophy: “Jewelry should not call attention to itself or overshadow the wearer.”  

"Bird Abstractions," a photograph by Peter Houts, taken of gulls flying over The Pond in Central Park.

“Bird Abstractions,” a photograph by Peter Houts, taken of gulls flying over The Pond in Central Park.

Photographer Peter Houts chose the subject of his work because of what he said is “My love of birds which came from living on a farm in Pennsylvania for 40 years.” He continued: “Photographing these beautiful creatures became an absorbing, challenging, and rewarding hobby.” He moved to Brooklyn four years ago and joined the New York City Audubon Photography Club, meeting Johann Schumacher, an accomplished bird photographer, who used slow shutter speeds to create beautiful abstract patterns of flying birds. This is a technque Houts has perfected.

Do you care if the artisan or artist from whom you buy a gift or something for yourself represents a well known brand? Do brands matter for more than prestige? Is their value everlasting?


“A Painter in Their Mist,” by Janie Samuels, colored pencil, digital drawing on paper, 4 x 6 inches--11 x 14 inches, framed. The image’s line and color work both as a narrative and abstractly, giving the canvas intrinsic balance.

“A Painter in Their Mist,” by Janie Samuels, colored pencil, digital drawing on paper, 4 x 6 inches–11 x 14 inches, framed. The image’s line and color work both as a narrative and abstractly, giving the canvas intrinsic balance.


Service of Crafts Worthy of the Name

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Modern American Table by William Robbins,

Modern American Table by William Robbins,

Craft show aficionados know what to expect when they visit a great one—fashion, jewelry, textiles, woodcraft, glass and ceramics for starters. What they don’t know is how the artisans and artists they meet will translate their visions, skill and creativity into their specialties. These surprises make a visit—and purchases–worthwhile.

“Woman, Head on Knee,” by Bob Clyatt, Raku-fired stoneware.

“Woman, Head on Knee,” by Bob Clyatt, Raku-fired stoneware.

It’s time for my client’s American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn, November 22-23, the weekend before Thanksgiving. For the second year the show, in a borough increasingly recognized for its artistic talent, is at Brooklyn Museum.

Spoiler alert: I have illustrated this post with some of those surprises.

The Brooklyn Museum show inspired a museum series—the Art of American Craft–that provides the appropriate showcase for the master crafts my clients, Joanna and Richard Rothbard, select for their shows. Next year they’re adding two additional events, one with the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford Conn. in April and the other at the Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, NJ, in October.

Beth Farber, Elizabeth Farber Designs,

Beth Farber, Elizabeth Farber Designs,

Museum series and craft show co-founder/director Richard Rothbard asks: “How many museum visitors make the connection that what they see in exhibitions found its origins in the work of artisanal craftsmen like the ones in our shows–designers of ceramics, jewelry, furniture, glass and fashion?” Coincidentally, concurrent with the craft show, Brooklyn Museum is running an exhibition “Crossing Brooklyn: Art from Bushwick, Bed-Stuy, and Beyond,” featuring 35 artists who live or work in the borough, on view through January 4, 2015.

If you visit the craft show, your fee will cover general admission to the museum and its exhibitions which is a lovely gift. 

Do you own/hold precious a handmade fashion, table accessory, cabinet, table, sculpture or handmade decorative object that you’ve bought or that someone’s given you? To what museum exhibitions do you gravitate: Fine art, posters, drawings, fashion, decorative arts, jewelry, sculpture or what?


Andrea Geer, Andrea Geer designs,

Andrea Geer, Andrea Geer designs,

Service of Salvaged & Recycled Material in Art & Craft

Thursday, December 5th, 2013


Nancy Kubale's "Traveler II," incorporates recycled barn wood

Nancy Kubale’s “Traveler II,” incorporates recycled barn wood

My client’s American Fine Craft Show Brooklyn, December 14-15, at the landmark Brooklyn Museum Beaux-Arts Court, exemplifies the importance of found or recycled materials in art and craft by some of the country’s most talented, creative artists and artisans.

By chance, so does one of the museum’s current exhibitions: “Wangechi Mutu: A Fantastic Journey.” The artist combines found materials, magazine cutouts, sculpture, and painted imagery in her work. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, Mutu’s studio is in Brooklyn now.

Back at the craft show, I’m calling out just four exhibitors of the many I might pick: an artist, sculptor, jeweler and fashion accessories designer. They incorporate salvaged and recycled materials prominently in their creations and are among the 90 artisans and artists who will sell their best the weekend after this one. 

“Zen Garden,” part of the Turntable series by Jinsheng Wang

“Zen Garden,” part of the Turntable series by Jinsheng Wang

Artist/exhibitor Jinsheng Wang writes on his website: “I look at salvaged materials with an open mind. I reformat the sequence or rhythm of things. The old items become new when I take them apart and reassemble them. The purpose and fashion re-energized.” He began working in traditional sculpture, then abstract and today his focus is to transform salvaged materials into art.

Wang, who moved to the US from China 20+ years ago, said hobbies inspire his work. “My art is part of my personal American experience. I became a semi-professional record and music collector and naturally, from my passion, came my Turntable and Bonzai Beebop series. Collecting music also helped me better understand American history and culture. The latter series has a practical use. I restore vintage tube radios making them into amplifiers, adding a speaker so that you can use them to listen to music from an iPod or Walkman.” 

Nancy Kubale's "Friends"

Nancy Kubale’s “Friends”

Found pieces enhance Nancy Kubale’s ceramic sculptures. On her website she describes the many steps she takes to create her ceramic figures that she fires three to five times, previously handbuilding them in stoneware clay and layering the surfaces with glazes, slips and stains. “Often the work is in pieces after the final firing and is then assembled with wood, metal, fiber and found objects,” she wrote. 

Connie Verrusio jewelry

Connie Verrusio jewelry

On her website Connie Verrusio admitted: “I never throw anything away. I’m a pack rat and a flea market junkie. Where others see outmoded technologies and broken machines, I see jewels just waiting for the right setting.” She described how some 20 years ago she discovered Canal Surplus, a tiny NYC store filled with “bins of mechanical detritus.” She’d leave the store with “a small bag of treasures and filthy hands” which “kicked off a jewelry-making career focused around the beauty of utilitarian objects.”  

Look At Me Designs gloves of recycled materials

Look At Me Designs gloves of recycled materials

For her 10-year-old fashion accessories business, Look At Me Designs, Melanie Cohen-Peddle has had one mission: “To create eco-friendly, fashion forward, one of a kind, wearable pieces of art. Every item is handmade from, or embellished with, recycled materials.” This year’s introductions focus on boot accessories from cuffs and cozies to toppers and she also designs hats, tunics, capes, T-shirts and skirts.

These artists are truly inspired by found and recycled materials but aren’t they also making an important statement about the tremendous waste we generate today? Can you share examples of others who identify beauty in salvaged materials? Have you decorated with or worn items incorporating found or recycled materials?

Connie Verrusio Letterpress bracelet

Connie Verrusio Letterpress bracelet

Service of Art as Communication: Wall Street Journal Reporter Ralph Gardner Translates

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Installation artist Taezoo Park's "Digital Being"

Installation artist Taezoo Park’s “Digital Being”

It’s hard to write coherently about art if you’re not sure what you’re looking at. I wonder about some well regarded writers in the field with star quality bylines in prestigious venues because I can’t make out what they–or the art they are writing about–are trying to say.

On the other hand Ralph Gardner did a great job describing installation art in “Composed Chaos” in his Wall Street Journal Urban Gardner column. I was particularly interested as this weekend–October 25-27–my clients, Joanna and Richard Rothbard, have invited installation artists to the Contemporary Art Fair NYC they founded and produce along with the concurrent American Fine Craft Show NYC at Javits Center North.

"Purple Lights" by Vito Bonanno

“Purple Lights” by Vito Bonanno

Like Gardner installation art puzzles me but so did the Impressionists’ now well-loved paintings confound and bewilder their contemporaries.Next weekend you can query two installation artists [Ms.] Noa Leshem-Gradus and Taezoo Park whose 2,500 square foot “Plato’s Cave” and “Digital Being” [photo at top] will be there. Other exhibitors at the art fair such as Vito Bonanno [photo above] also love to do such work.

Gardner focused on installation artist Sarah Sze. Here are excerpts of his clear, unpretentious descriptions of the work of the Columbia University professor, this year’s US representative at the Venice Biennale, MacArthur fellowship winner and subject of a new book:

“Her work is challenging to describe. It typically involves large installations of hundreds of objects; part sculpture, part architecture and all about the artist’s often head-scratching selection process. Think of a little kid who took her junk and put it on the sidewalk for passersby to buy. Now imagine if the junk somehow started to cohere, that you detected relationships among the objects, touches of beauty, even a philosophical framework.

“Nonetheless, chaos—or at least the tension between order and chaos, with chaos gaining the upper hand—seems to be at her art’s center. In other words, if Ms. Sze’s parents got home and found her latest installation all over the sidewalk, or the kitchen floor, I doubt they’d be pleased.”

Gardner continues “And similar to a Pollock, one feels under sneak attack by Ms. Sze’s work. It’s more than anyone can reasonably be expected to wrap one’s mind around. Apparently, that’s the point. In a video on the Biennale’s website, she discusses her desire to re-create nature and the way we’re daily confronted, no matter how adept we are at going through life with blinders on, with ‘information beyond our capacity ever to understand, like the cosmos.'” 

View of some exhibits from the 2012 Contemporary Art Fair NYC

View of some exhibits from the 2012 Contemporary Art Fair NYC

Gardner plays a game when he visits galleries or museums. He asks himself “How would this look over my fireplace?” I play a similar game: Were money no object and/or if these works were for sale, which one would I take home? Describing her Biennale exhibit–an assemblage of lamps, light bulbs, rocks, bones and more–he admits that Sze’s work doesn’t fit that formula and later on in the article concludes: “It’s less about the objects, in this case armies of them, than the intellectual system behind them.” 

"Regal Earrings" by Shana Kroiz

“Regal Earrings” by Shana Kroiz

There’s plenty of more traditional work at the art fair and craft show that would fit over your fireplace, on a wall or look well on you. I could fill ten posts with a sampling.

I make a living introducing clients’ new products to the public via media. Americans thrive on what’s new. Why should the art industry be any different?

Do you feel frustrated when you can’t “get” recognized artworks? Do you think it’s a question of time and getting used to risk-taking work? How is it that today most take in stride sculpture and art of previous eras that drove most period viewers nuts?


4 Stones Dreidel by Javier Nujimovich

4 Stones Dreidel by Javier Nujimovich


Service of Art II

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Valerie Bunnell’s "Queen Bee"

Valerie Bunnell’s "Queen Bee"

Nothing stops art and/or the creative process. That’s the theme Richard Rothbard of American Art Marketing chose for the intro to the program for the trilogy of events he founded and will direct at the Javits Center this weekend: The Contemporary Art Fair NYC, American Art Show NYC and a new section, Art Off the Main, October 19-21. I help promote these events.

Jane Herzenberg Designs

Jane Herzenberg Designs

Rothbard has thought about art for 30+ years, through enthusiastic economies and limping ones. Before he wrote the intro, Rothbard observed that even a tight economy doesn’t stop artists–whether those associated with the arts and crafts he represents or actors, writers, musicians and others. I add, some have given or risked their lives for art. Like liquid in a leaky container, the work of artists seeps out no matter what.  

Menorah by metal sculptor Gary Rosenthal

Menorah by metal sculptor Gary Rosenthal

Rothbard wrote in the intro: “You enter your home, apartment or office and rejoice in seeing a painting, sculpture or photograph that you will hand down to your children and friends. In dressing for work or for a special event, a handcrafted piece of jewelry or fashion accessory will make you look and feel exceptional.” His former comment reminds me that people who buy and care for art and crafts help preserve them. I’m a perfect example of the latter point. I might be wearing the same old suit but add a fabulous, creative necklace or pin and it gets all the attention.

Mark Symczak’s “Myna with Orchid”

Mark Symczak’s “Myna with Orchid”

Some of the unexpected things you’ll see among the exhibits of furniture, ceramics, glass, jewelry, textile and fashion, painting, sculpture and photography–200 juried exhibitors in all–include a wooden shoehorn similar to one that the Emperor of Japan owns [by Hiroyki Hashino]; reconfirgured antique handbags [Joy Horvath–Gioia handbags], photographs that move [Debora Lill, Still Art in Motion–check out the video on her website] and so much more!

If you come make sure you say “hi” to me!

Do you agree that artists, however you define them, can’t be stopped from creating and performing? 

"Panther Chameleon Pin/Pendant" by Amy Roper Lyons

"Panther Chameleon Pin/Pendant" by Amy Roper Lyons

Service of Preparing for Creativity

Monday, November 14th, 2011


I was inspired for today’s post by what a weaver and fashion designer, Marsha Fleisher, Loominus Woodstock, wrote about how her ideas for color, pattern and design come to her. “When I am quiet, empty and in stillness, the process of creativity comes of itself. For me, this emptiness includes the absence of chaos, the slate needs to be clean, chores done, bills paid, dishes washed, lists cleared, calls returned. I am usually rewarded with a concept, color, texture, and interplay of designs, jacket detail, and a vision…magic.”

craftshow2011mfleisherlpasticheFleisher [her “Pastiche” coat is at right] is one of 200 artists and artisans who will exhibit their work at joint shows, American Craft Show NYC and Contemporary Art Fair NYC at the Javits Center, November 18-20. The craft/art show producers, Joanna and Richard Rothbard of American Art Marketing, are my clients.

artfairmicheldelgado2Another exhibitor, artist Michel Delgado writes: “I am in a powerful new place in my career as an artist.  The beginning of a painting had never been a comfortable place for me.  All the emotional and mental preparation would make me stiff.” Notes the Key West painter who was born in Senegal, “Now, I have nothing to hold back and have found a new journey altogether; trusting in whatever will occur.” His painting, “Unbroken Spirit,” [left]  is enamel on wood.

artfair2011mazzoniemeraldcatAlso a participant, Margaret Azzoni is exhibiting paintings of homes, interiors and dreams that she captures in watercolors, pencil and ink on canvas or paper. One of her mixed media works is “Emerald Cat,” right. Azzoni studied architecture at Princeton where she received a Masters degree. She says that the fluidity of painting provides “a relief from the rigid lines of the architectural drawings.”

artfair2011gutierrez_alejandro_-st“Not being constrained by the type of film in the camera, I’m able to work the settings to get the sensor to capture the light the way I want to,” says Roosevelt Island-based photographer Alejandro Gutierrez addressing the digital photography he plans to exhibit [such as “St. Maarten” at left]. “The instant feedback is very important; the equipment is portable, flexible and I’m not limited to one kind of camera. I don’t set up/style a photo but use the scene and existing light, street signs-I allow the pieces to happen.”

artfair2011yukouenoPart of the Contemporary Art Fair NYC, Yuko Ueno says “I was attracted to the beauty of butterfly wings and developed my own way of making them [at right]. Each butterfly piece has unique design, color and patterns from my imagination. Inspirations came from my dance background and passion for music.” She explains her Butterfly Project: “My goal was to deliver a message through my work that beautiful little creatures exist on this earth and to call attention to the fact that when trees and greens disappear, little lives disappear too.”

craftshow2011willcox_kimberly_lrArtisan Kimberly Wilcox wasn’t prepared for a fire that destroyed her studio in 2010 and changed the way she works and thinks. “Journey Home,” painted on reclaimed wood with acrylic, watercolor and pastel [left], is part of her “Gift of Receiving” series. “Artists are givers and it’s easy to be a giver,” she said. “After the fire, I became a receiver,” hence the series. She didn’t have brushes when she started this piece as they, too were lost: She painted with her fingers.

joycebluebeachquiltsmall2Joyce Malin [she’s not an exhibitor] quilts for relaxation. She says “Designing and assembling the pieces and sewing them are escapes from the bad news on TV.” She noted that if she waited until all the chores were off her plate at work and at home she’d never design a quilt. She collects fabrics as others might accumulate stamps or coins. She carefully sorts, identifies and stores the swatches according to topic and color. She’s also an avid photographer and incorporates photographs on fabric into her newest work.


Remember Norton, the “Honeymooners” TV character played by Art Carney? Before he would write his name or a few words on a piece of paper, he would wave his hands around, flex his fingers to prepare himself, all the time driving the Jackie Gleason character, Ralph Kramden, crazy.

Before you write a proposal, a paper or an article, paint a picture, frame a photograph, establish a budget, launch a do-it-yourself project, draft a speech, how do you prepare? Do you work in silence, in the morning, midday or at night? What do you do to jolt creativity or your thoughts when nothing is happening?


Service of Busy Hands

Thursday, November 11th, 2010


My father spent months at an Army hospital in Colorado after World War II. He told me that for bedridden patients who were able to knit, one of the therapies was to teach them how. Every day a man who might otherwise feel useless and hopeless would see progress even if he could only manage a few rows, while at the same time, he’d feel productive, by making someone a handsome, warm scarf.

The NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital turns to handwork in a different way. There’s an arts and crafts program called Charna’s Kids, for siblings of sick children. For hospitalized children who undergo a series of procedures, there’s Beads of Courage. With each hurdle, a child gets a wonderful colored bead to string and wear with pride.

americanartmktecardMy clients, Joanna and Richard Rothbard of American Art Marketing, understand the importance of arts and crafts to artisans who have perfected their skills and to those starting out in life who might be helped by them. This is the first year they are producing the American Craft Show NYC at the Javits Center the weekend of November 19th-Friday through Sunday. For every ticket sold at the craft fair and its sister show, the Contemporary Art Fair NYC, the Rothbards are donating $1 to the The NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.

They’ve supported artisans for over 30 years through the craft fairs they produce and through An American Craftsman Galleries, boutiques in Mass. and Ga. with four in Manhattan. Richard, a juggler of multiple projects, is a craftsman himself. He designs puzzle boxes of wood.

I’m mostly a buyer of arts and crafts, though my sister taught me to knit when I was about five. I used to knit and would like to soon again. Just thinking about it calms me. My great aunt hooked rugs and also taught me how and my aunt does needlepoint. Do you know anyone who is great at an art or a craft or who turns to either as therapy?


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