A Step Ahead of the Reindeer…

stocking with artsy gifts with c
Season’s Artsy Greetings!

I hope you and yours are finding warm moments among these chilly, busy days.  My warm moments with my loved ones have involved travel in recent days, but I’m back in one of Santa’s satellite workshops creating, listing, wrapping, and packaging.  Oh, and making lots of trips to the Post Office.

I had an early Christmas gift myself – my “goal” this season was to hit 100 total Etsy shop sales before year’s end.  Happy to report that my Etsy odometer turned over to three digits this past weekend.  (And it’s added even a little more mileage since.)

screen shot at 100 etsy sales crop

According to the USPS Holiday Calendar, there’s another good week or so to get gifts on their way in the US to make it under the tree before Christmas.  I’ll keep sending as fast as folks place orders. :0) (Feel free to contact me or Convo me through Etsy if you have any questions about items or shipping, etc.)

Many thanks to my wonderful customers, friends, and creative supporters – you’ve made my season *B*R*I*G*H*T !

Cheers with cocoa and whipped cream… back to it!

 

Black Friday * Small Business Saturday * Cyber Monday – Artsy Coupon!

Thankful for this pretty spike in November Etsy sales!

Thankful for this pretty spike in November Etsy sales!


R typekey bobby pin wrapped

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!

Perhaps the dishes are done and you’re thinking of hitting the big weekend sales.  May I invite you to click on over to my artsyletters shop?  I’m adding new items as fast as my fingers can type this weekend.

 

Vintage typewriter key ring - kitschy fun!

Vintage typewriter key ring – kitschy fun!

Kind of like a shop store owner still setting out wares as customers stroll in. Here, have a cup of tea!

If you do pop in for a visit, be sure to use Coupon Code BLACKLETTER13 for 13 percent off in my Etsy shop all weekend – now through Monday.

Thanks for taking a look!

Art Break Wednesday – Artsy Thanks to All!

Ringing in the season at the Cumming, Ga.,  "Christmas in Central Park" last weekend.

Ringing in the season at the Cumming, Ga., “Christmas in Central Park” last weekend.

It’s about that time – time to slow down and name what we’re grateful for.  I’m most thankful for the priceless intangibles:  family, friends, health, freedom, opportunity.  My thoughts and prayers are for those whose hearts (or bodies) ache this time of year.

And while my art business is less important than those intangibles, I’m still thankful to be able to say – Whew!  Made it through the first year, and I’m excited about the future.  I might not be paying the mortgage or the college tuition (yet, anyway!), but I’m pleased to be moving forward.  I learn more with each show or festival, and I know a lot more about selling on Etsy now than I did last fall. I’ve had a lovely little rush of orders this month, too, which I hope continues through the holidays!

My art business has tangibles and intangibles, too.  The tangibles I’m thankful for include a “yes” from the Trademark office this past year re. my artsyletters name, and a new, old studio space waiting for me in Beaufort, South Carolina, where we’re moving.  (I’ll do a post on that in the future – it’s right on Bay Street, in an 1890 building!)  I’ve found suppliers I love ordering from and I’m getting better and better at shipping, with all its myriad dynamics.  My booth set-up has gotten more appealing with each show, and I’ll continue to tweak that I’m sure.

The intangibles?  First, discovering that I was indeed appealing to my target market.  I’ve sold items to fellow writers & poets, teachers, librarians, college professors, artists, and book lovers of all ages – sending packages all across the country (including Hawaii) and to England, France, and Canada.  Nothing could make me happier.  Even more special, some customers have shared comments I will treasure always, particularly about my altered page collages (I’m making more, I promise!):  “Your work calls to me.”  “This piece speaks to my soul.”  “So excited to give this.”  “Love your creativity.”

Those kind words are the fuel that keeps me in a creative frenzy!I made this Emily Dickinson collage with "There is no Frigate like a Book" and gorgeous1800s illustrations - it sold quickly last weekend!

This Emily Dickinson collage features “There is No Frigate like a Book” and gorgeous 1800s illustrations, plus vintage bling, and the fairy door book collage below says, “I think your wings are strong enough to carry you” from a 100-year-old text. I think the glue was still drying at last weekend’s show, and they both sold! 

The Emily Dickinson collage features "Every Frigate is a Book" and gorgeous 1800s illustrations, and the fairy door book collage says, "I think your wings are strong enough to carry you" from 100-year-old text.

Second art business intangible: the amazing support I’ve received from creative friends.  There’s my art critique group, who heard me verbalize this nugget of an idea for the first time just over a year and a half ago.  (My Thanksgiving post last year was about them! –  Also thankful that we added Leighanne Schneider to the mix this year).

Also, where would I be without Kim Siegelson,

with Kim S Nov 2013 adj reduced

my award-winning writer friend with a wonderful vintage shop on Etsy, Perfect Patina. Okay, I’d be floundering.  I’ve called Kim – um, I don’t know exactly how many times, but several – with Etsy questions.  I’ve got some good books on Etsy and online selling of art, and I consult the Etsy blogs, but there is no substitute for talking to someone who has been in the trenches and marched triumphantly ahead.  Thank you, Kim!

Whether it’s pestering graphic design whiz Kathleen with emergency photo editing questions, or snagging Paula and Beth for antique market outings, or doing some serious vintage hunting with Kim, I’ve been so very fortunate to have partners in my artsy crimes.  Friends have shown up at shows, too – aforementioned Beth and Paula, Peggy, Barbara, Janice, Michael & Candy, the Kennedy clan, Trish and others- not only to buy a gift here or there but to offer a booth-sitting break and words of encouragement.

Finally, I’m thankful for my family (hubby Jeff and kids Morgan and Seth) – they’ve put up with art show explosions from time to time in the house.  (Oh – you’re supposed to EAT on the dining room table?!) And, they’ve put up with my way-too-old-for-this all nighters and my being out of pocket for weekends here and there.  Daughter Morgan put my entire inventory on Square so I can make sales with just a couple of clicks at shows. She can tweet, post to Facebook, and conduct transactions all at the same time! morgan in booth AITS 2013

Huge thanks to my online friends who have “liked” my Facebook page and shared posts, followed me on Twitter, commented on my blogs and mentioned me on theirs,  “favorited” items on Etsy (& purchased them, too!), and generally helped spread the love in this vast virtual community.  Julie, Renee, Cathy, Jone, Liz, Jama, Irene, Susan, Laura S., Laura Sh., Tabatha, Stephanie, Tricia, Linda, Kirby, Betsy, Joy, Elizabeth, Gail, Michelle, Beth, Janet and more – I am very, very thankful! :0)

Wishing you and yours a creative and love-filled Thanksgiving holiday.

Art Break Wednesday: Hear Those Jingles?

 

 

Miniature "Writer Mouse" Christmas ornament.  Click to learn more!

Miniature “Writer Mouse” Christmas ornament. Click to learn more!

I’ve been busy getting ready for Christmas In Central Park in Cumming, Georgia this weekend.  (Nearly 100 juried arts and crafts vendors, plus holiday family fun and food!) X-mas in Central Park front

 

 

 

My little basket full of holiday promotional postcards basket of artsyletters postcards christmas mailing smallwent to the post office yesterday, too  – all dressed up with holiday stickers.

(If you don’t receive one and would like a Coupon Code for my Etsy shop this season, please send an email!)

 

Do you have any book lovers, teachers, librarians, writers or poets on your holiday list? I hope you’ll check my Etsy shop, where I’m continuing to add items each week.  Maybe some art for a literary type?

print - glasses and books RHB

opening door with c blog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

earrings for blog MOr typewriter key earrings?

 

Note cards perhaps, or  bookmarks, magnets, fancy matted initials…   Feel free to browse around the shop and ask me any questions!

 

I really do love creating items that others will enjoy.  In fact, here’s a sneak peek at my version of a manicure this week- ink under the fingernails, paint on top. Just the way I like it!

printmaker manicure

Oh – and I’m always happy to provide FREE GIFT WRAP with a hand-lettered tag. gift wrap blog 2013

Raising a cup of cocoa with wishes for lots of happy jingles in your corner of the world. Now… break’s over – I’ve got to get back to work!

Art Break Wednesday: New Bookmarks, Old Rust

 

2 bookmarks

©Robyn Hood Black

I love my customers.  It’s been an honor to connect with old and new friends at recent shows.

Folks who are attracted to art with a literary bent are usually pretty interesting, thoughtful people. One such new acquaintance discussed a custom order option for her book club – she wanted to present the members with bookmarks as gifts and picked out a few designs for me to send her in bulk.  We got to chatting, and she said, “If you ever make a Book Club bookmark, let me know.”

“I’ve had that on my to-do list,” I said.  “How soon would you need them?”

Long story short, I came home, set up a little still life,  got out the golden-buff parchment paper and my inks and paint, and got busy.  Nothing like a “lowest prices of the year” sale at the online printer’s, ending at midnight, to spur on creativity!  (I use Overnight Prints, by the way – “the greenest online printer in the world,” so says their website.)

book club bookmark

©Robyn Hood Black

I emailed her the image I sent off for printing, and she decided to get these instead of the ones she’d picked out.  Customers do have great ideas!

Well, with that sale’s ticking deadline teasing me from my computer screen, I also got out the white paper, whipped up this “Poets” bookmark design, placed it over the illustration I’d just made (covering the Book Club lettering), scanned it in, and ordered these too.  (Love me some Gothic/black letter, I do.)  I made the deadline only because it wasn’t Eastern Standard Time there, evidently. ;0)

"Poets write between the lines"- ©Robyn Hood Black

“Poets write between the lines”
– ©Robyn Hood Black

Sometimes a little inspiration goes a long way!  I’ll get these new bookmarks listed in my Etsy shop sometime today. [DONE – Click here for the link to the Book Club bookmark, and click here for the Poets bookmark.]

In other news, we just returned from Nashville to celebrate Family Weekend with our youngest, a new college freshman.  Before we hit the honkytonks Saturday afternoon to listen to music, I dragged my guys out to find Antique Archeology, one of the storefront shops of Mike Wolfe and crew from The History Channel’s American Pickers.

Robyn and Seth - Antique Archeology truck

It was a fun stop, but heads’ up – it’s a small space (overly warm if lots of people are inside), featuring some items recognizable from episodes and primarily show souvenirs such as tee shirts, coffee cups, and the like.  I bought a cool postcard and a small poster which says “Rock the Rust” for my studio. antique archeology storefront  for blog

 

I plan to rock a lot more rust this fall, bookmark in useand more thick black lettering, too.  Wishing you a creative October, whatever time zone you’re in!

 

Art Break Wednesday – Poetry Month, Austin Kleon, Found Poems

poetry-month-2013-logo

Happy Poetry Month!  Because I’m a poet as well as a visual artist, I especially love April.

About this time last year, with a couple of Atlanta writing buds,  I got to hear and meet New York Times bestselling author Austin Kleon.  Sponsored by the Georgia Center for the Book, he spoke at the DeKalb County Public Library about his book, STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST – 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.  Ready for more black and white graphics?

StealLikeAnArtist

You might know writer and artist Kleon from his 2010 NEWSPAPER BLACKOUT:

cover-375-245x367 newspaper blackout austin kleon

dedication page Austin Kleon 2012 RHB(I was happy that he signed both of my books with his signature arrow-through-the-head image.)

 

Do click over to his blog to check out his work.  He’s a warm, funny, engaging speaker addressing creativity in the digital age.  He’s also a new dad (awwwww…!) and presents common sense ideas about creating in uncommonly understandable terms.

Robyn with Austin Kleon 4 2012

 

 

He’s spoken to audiences at Pixar, Google, and The Economist, to name a few organizations.  Intrigued?  Check out his TEDx Talk.  His work has been featured on NPR’s Morning Edition, PBS Newshour, and in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

One of my favorite things about his books is the introduction to NEWSPAPER BLACKOUT.  The book contains dozens of “redacted” poems created with a permanent marker and newspaper articles.  You’ll have to check out his blog to see examples!  Anyway, in the intro, Kleon gives us an abbreviated history of this type of poetry – stretching back more than 250 years!  As a lover of found poetry (my first publications in an anthology came in THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK – A Book of Found Poems  edited by Georgia Heard and illustrated by Antonie Gullioppé, Roaring Brook Press, 2012), I was hooked on this surprisingly rich history as well as on the poems.  Why not try some yourself?

The few found poem collages I’ve made for my art business and my Etsy shop have found buyers these past few months (Yay!  Thanks, Buyers!), so I’m conjuring up some more.  Here’s a peek at one just done – when the glue finishes drying (!) I’ll take some real photos and list it tomorrow.  I always start with a real page from a vintage book.  This one is from p. 47 of A LITERARY PILGRIMAGE, Seventh Edition, by Dr. Theodore F. Wolfe, J. B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia: 1896.  (Such a lovely laid texture on those pages!)  I use the real page but photocopy it to work out the found poem before I paint over the original text with gouache, leaving only the bits I want for the poem unpainted.

discarded stanzas in process RHB

Once the poem emerges and the paint dries, I attach to a prepared substrate (background surface I’ve already painted – Canson matboard in this case) and embellish with vintage metal elements.  I’ve been waiting for just the right piece to use this twisted black piece on (from an Eastern European Etsy dealer!) – it reminds me of a figure, specifically, a Kokopelli type figure playing his flute.  A prankster and storyteller, I think of him as a poet, too, and he seemed to fit here beside the “preface” line of “footsteps lightly print the ground.” – a line from Thomas Gray on this page.

discarded stanzas image adj RHBWritten out, the found poem would look like this:

Discarded Stanzas

the poet’s footsteps lightly print the ground

what was

the transcending quality of

such stanzas

divinest poetry

of a noble soul

on which

bereft mortals meditate

on the way to

darkness

discarded stanzas framed RHB

For a look at my process making another found poem collage, click here.

Thanks for stopping by, and wishing you a month full of art AND poetry!

(Thurs. Update – Listed this new found poem collage in my Etsy shop.) :0)

Art Break Wednesday: Connections and Combinations

 

Greetings!  I’m not exactly sure where the past week went, but between travelling, enjoying the last bit of spring break with Morgan, and a couple of work things, it slipped through my fingers!  Oops.

Happy to be back and eager to share art and inspiration this spring.

Today I’m thankful not only to have been a creator but a recipient in the Pocket Change  Artist Trading Card project.  Folks participated from all over the world:  the US, Canada, Italy, Australia, India, Mexico, and New Zealand! Beth mailed out my own cards to keep (or share) a couple of weeks ago, and they have been brightening my days:

 

Images © the artists

Images © the artists

The “Flowers of Time” card from Nancy is particularly special because she put the date on the back – and it was created my birthday, January 30!  Its collaged text reads:

The truth, that painter, bard, and sage,

Even in Earth’s cold and changeful

Clime,

Plant for their deathless heritage

The fruits and flowers of time.

 

Isn’t that beautiful?  I was cheered by the other cards as well – Leslie’s lively hot pink and ink drawing, Fiona’s happy Friendship card, and the colorful collage from.. Spain? Well, it has Spanish postage stamps.  I love knowing that the creators put not only their imaginations into these delightful pieces, but their hearts as well.  Thank you!

For more about the project, here’s a post on 6 Degrees of Creativity with links to other blog posts by participants.

In other news… customers often have the best ideas.  I was recently asked about putting together a combination package of note cards from my Etsy shop, an idea which I’ve been stirring on the back burner and whose time has come.  After sending off her custom package, I decided to offer a couple of themed packs as well as a “Your Choice” option for those who can’t decide.  Finally got them posted today:

Literary Combo Pack (Click for Link)

Literary Combo Pack (Click for Link)

Literary Combo Pack

 

 

 

 

 

Animal Combo Pack  (Click for Link)

Animal Combo Pack (Click for Link)

Animal Combo Pack

Custom Combo Pack (Click for Link)

Custom Combo Pack (Click for Link)

Custom Combo Pack

The price per pack is slightly higher than my same-design packs, simply because there is a little more time involved in assembling them.

Thank you, Dear Customer who spurred me on, and I hope other folks will enjoy these options as well.

Now, I’ve got some new projects coming up with the daffodils – what are your artistic plans for Spring?

Art Break Wednesday: Just My Type

typewriting manual woodstock typewriter

My wonderful friend and author Kim Siegelson left this intriguing note on my artsyletters Facebook page last month:  “I found the coolest addition to your artsyletters set up today.”  Curiousity was killing this cat!  You see, in addition to sharing the writing life, Kim is the one I’ve turned to in past months for Etsy advice.  She has a lively vintage Etsy shop (two actually), and I love seeing what new items show up in Perfect Patina.  On my author blog in November, I shared another special gift she found for me and my appreciation for our vintage hunting adventures.

We finally met up at our SCBWI Southern Breeze Springmingle in Atlanta this past weekend, and Kim gave me my new surprise.  (Drumroll….)

typewriting manualThe Complete Second Edition of  20th Century Typewriting          

by D. D. Lessenberry and E. A. Jevon, published by South-Western Publishing Company in 1933.

I love typewriting manuals!  I have a couple others I’ve picked up in antique shops, but what makes this one stand out are the amazing illustrations of typewriters inside. (I couldn’t find a credit for these.)  Here are some more samples:

typewriter manual interior 1typewriting manual interior 2

Aren’t these great?

 

 

 

 

 

 

At art shows, one thing I’ve loved to offer is my old Underwood typewriter available for attendees to try out.  Especially kids – most have never used one before!  I make them type enough of a line to hear the magic bell…

Jessica and Wyatt try out my old typewriter, as my daughter and “assistant shopkeeper” Morgan looks on.

One of the first products I wanted to offer in my new art business last fall was some typewriter notecardstypewriter card RHB

This image was drawn with pen and ink (and some colored pencil and other media worked in as well) on paper I had painted to suggest a parchment effect.

 

In the mixed media department, I was delighted to find on Etsy a dealer from Great Britain who had parts from an old Remington typewriter for sale.  I’ve used these in a few pieces, and still have some left for future projects.  This collage I made and sold on Etsy incorporated some of these metal parts, my own typewriter image above, a vintage flash card, some vintage metal letters, and a line of exercises from another old typewriting manual that reads:

You typewriter - write it on your heart RHB

Write it on your heart that every day is the very best day in the year.”

I was delighted when a customer purchased this collage with the following note:

My husband is a “collector” of typewriters and we both love to live with our hearts so I cannot imagine anything much more appropriate for him than this framed piece.

Even more delighted when she kindly sent me a follow-up note as well:

Just wanted to tell you how much my husband LOVES the framed artwork and note cards. He opened it today and it is now placed happily on our piano. We can hardly believe how perfect the message and collage of unique items come together to match our lives.

Let me tell you, words like that fill my own heart and soul. I’ve been blessed to realize that beyond making items to sell, starting an art business has given me connections I treasure.  These might be the happy thought that my work has made someone else smile, or the special knowledge that a friend would pick up a vintage typewriter manual with dynamic black illustrations of old typewriters, and she would think of me!

Thank you, Kim.

Anyone else have fond memories of clacking away on a heavy metal typewriter (or those sleek electric ones that slid into the market)?  Do tell!

 

Art Break Wednesday: Holiday Cards – How Do You Do?

 

Holiday cards – do you send them?

Every year for as long as I can remember, I’ve designed and/or handmade our Christmas cards.  One of these years I’ll put them all together in that little album I bought for that purpose a decade ago or so.  Maybe.

Here is this year’s, fresh off the Fed Ex truck from the printer:

©Robyn Hood Black. All Rights Reserved.

 

Last year I hand printed and hand tinted a couple hundred of these from a design I carved:

 

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

 

Do you send out cards this time of year?  Purchased or handmade?  Or maybe you gather up the family for a photo card, so folks can keep up with how the children are growing?  Do you include a yearly letter?

I typically tuck in a photo of the four of us and don’t do a letter. 

Do tell – what holiday card traditions are on your kitchen table? (Or have you already gotten them out?  How organized!)

Wishing you and yours a lovely, inspiring December! 

Remember Etsy for some great, one-of-a-kind gifts.  (You can use the coupon code HOLIDAY2012 in my shop for 10 percent off!  Shhhh… don’t tell.  Nah, just kidding – you can tell your friends.)  PS – I do have free shipping on these holiday cards:

 

Art Break Wednesday – and a Book Give-away!

 

WELCOME to ART BREAK WEDNESDAY here on artsyletters!   Grab your coffee or tea and visit each week to find creative inspiration, camaraderie, and special give-aways.

What inspires you?

As a writer/poet, I’m a sucker for the written word.  My recent artistic adventures reflect that – whether in subject matter (books, etc.) or in substance (vintage book pages, old typewriter parts and keys, and the like.).  While my artwork is predominantly black and white, sometimes I like to color things up a bit.

Here’s how I made the 5 X 7 collage I featured in my Poetry Friday post last week on my writer blog.

(detail)

 

 

 

First, I found a section of text from a vintage book that had “found poem” possibilities (double-checking online first to make sure it wasn’t the last rare copy of this edition or anything!).  This is page 206 of the 1922 JOURNEYS THROUGH BOOKLAND (Vol. 6) compiled by Charles H. Sylvester. It’s the first page of a story called “The Poet and the Peasant” by French novelist Emile Souvestre.

 

I added a little bling to that inviting initial “A” in the form of some 23-kt gold leaf.

 

 

 

Then I played with the text on a photocopy to “find” my poem before working on the real page of text.  I wanted to use the first part of the story title to call the poem, “The Poet.”  I applied blue-green gouache washes (mixed with gel medium) to the page, leaving the words I wanted highlighted untouched.  I added some darker washes underneath the words to make them pop. Then I sprayed workable fixative on the page.  When dry, I applied acrylic gloss medium over all of it.

Now for the fun part!  I wandered over to my old metal cabinet (does anyone know what this was originally for?  I snapped it up on a trip with my artist friends, Paula and Beth, at a local antiques market day).  It’s full of recent treasures such as vintage objects and old metal pieces I’ve found on Etsy or picked up on the side of the road!  It also holds small letterpress letters and antique type keys and such.

I tried out a few elements to arrange on the page as a collage and settled on these.  The beautiful old watch face, vintage key, and vintage Remington typewriter part were all Etsy finds.

©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.

I glued them on to the altered page, placed the piece in a frame that could be used as a shallow shadowbox (from a local art/craft store), and, Voila!  Now I have a mixed-media tribute to the observational qualities of “The Poet.”

 

 

 

 

Another essential source of inspiration for me is enjoying the creative work of others – in museums, online, or in books and magazines.  I’ve just read ART AT THE SPEED OF LIFE by Pam Carriker (Interweave Press, 2010).  This mixed media artist and blogger offers up a feast for busy artists.  You can savor a variety of artists and projects at a leisurely pace or grab your inspiration “to go” – the author offers “Speed of Life” versions of instructions for some of the featured works, perfect to fill an art journal in just a few days.  Whatever pace you prefer, I’d love to send you this copy!

Please leave a comment below about what inspires YOU, and you will be entered in my first book give-away.  [Deadline for Entry is midnight EST Monday, Oct. 8.]  One winner will be randomly selected, and then I’ll email you for your mailing address.  Thanks for playing along!

 

 

 

[Two of Robyn’s found poems for children appear in Georgia Heard’s THE ARROW FINDS ITS MARK (Roaring Brook, 2012), illustrated by Antoine Guilloppé.   This featured shadowbox and other altered pages artwork can be found in her Etsy shop – more coming soon! ]