Sunday, July 27, 2008

Featured Artisan:

WhenI was asked me to write an article for the church newsletter about my painting hobby, I wondered what the best approach would be. Then the thought hit me that this hobby has led to many adventures. When I bought that first little box of oil paints so many years ago, I had no idea where the Lord was leading with that and how much enjoyment would come from it. It was always a thrill seeing what putting the paint on the canvas looked like, how adding a touch of another color would change the whole effect.
As time went by, I found I liked acrylics, too. Then I went to watercolors and pastels. Along the way I took advantage of a few different classes. One I enjoyed was given by a local artist who gave lessons in oil painting and pastels. The class excursion one of the days included painting buildings on a nearby abandoned farm.
Enjoyable was a watercolor class a friend and I went to in northern Minnesota given by a well-known watercolor artist, Ed Whitney. There we met another watercolorist and arranged for her to give a two-day watercolor workshop in our town to anyone interested.
Another interesting project. A friend read poetry while I did a painting with pastels. We gave the program several times for groups. Seeing the interest in the students when I demonstrated oil painting at the local Christian school one year, was rewarding. On the scene painting with friends through the years has also been enjoyed.
Some of the paintings were displayed in several area places and were hung for a time when our local vacant school had a Gallery. A few times some paintings were entered in various fairs. Quite a few were sold.
Then there were the murals. That all began when two of us mothers of students at that time began painting scenery for Proms and Homecomings. We did a total of five Proms and two Homecomings between 1980 and 1984, usually on pieces of cardboard eight feet tall and of various widths.
Stemming from that there was the request to paint murals in the Steamboat Rock school. Two others helped with that project. We painted smaller ones in the hallways, but two covered the two walls of the study hall. On one wall was the large rock formation along the Iowa River for which the town was named. The other wall was Tower Rock, the tall rock formation near the River, too. That was in 1983, and in 1984 we painted another postcard scene of the town’s old flour mill on the City Hall wall. All these murals are still there today.
Finally, all this culminated in being asked to paint a large mural on big cardboard pieces for Kiwanis of Eldora and that was 40 feet long.
Personal murals were one for my sister in St. Paul and two in my house
Sometime during these years I decided to do an oil painting of our two churches. I wasn’t satisfied with the painting of the new church so that was never finished. I decided now is the time to get the painting of our former church out of the closet and give it to the church.
It has been a long traveled road that brought much reward and enjoyment.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Featured Artisan:

Q Branch Ltd. at is a shop that features a husband and wife who are both craft artists. The shop features a variety of work representing a small sample of the art that these two artists have been producing for over 25 years. Each works in a variety of mediums. Each with training in art and other professions, their work is displayed in galleries, museums, exhibitions, at craft shows and on the Internet.

The shop name goes back to the early 1980's when it was Q Branch and it designed and sold software for a very new home computer market. At the time the name was chosen from the gadget makers in the James Bond movies and the business had the slogan, "Let Q Branch Keep You Equipped!" Over time the software business stopped and the name evolved to a new business of selling crafts. The business incorporated and added the Ltd. corporate designation to its name.

When we started on Etsy we were listing only the main crafts that we do for sale - woodturnings - the wood turned jewelry that is still sold on the site - and small teddy bears. Sales were not as anticipated and we started to list more of a variety of items. As supplies are always the best sellers on Etsy, our neckcords and our ACEO mats were introduced and have become two of our most popular items. We are both living history reenactors and have demonstrated the lucet that we make at history events. This was introduced to our shop and has also become popular. We continue to make and sell woodturning, teddy bears, and dolls in other sales venues, aside from Etsy. The work that we sell on Etsy is as fine a quality as any that we have sold or displayed anywhere. The same attention to detail is paid to the least expensive item as is to items that we make and sell for hundreds of dollars. We both pride ourselves in providing the best customer service that we can and our shop is often complimented on our communication with our customers, our prompt shipping, and of course, the quality of what has been purchased.

Handmade is always a hard sell, many people who are not artists do not appreciate the time and effort that goes into producing craft art. Many are spoiled by mass-produced discounted items and it is difficult for them to justify the price that handmade craft must cost. We have been selling at craft shows for over 25 years and have had a number of experiences, both positive and negative. We share some of these on our site - We are also currently working on a book to help others get started in selling at craft shows which will be published at a future date. Our best advice for anyone getting started is to know that what you do is good and not allow comments at craft shows to discourage you.

Featured Artisan:

My mother named me Amber Dawn, which translates into Golden Morning. She was so proud of the name she chose. I love it too! When I named my children I thought long and hard before picking just any name, like my mother had done. I stay at home with my 3 children and craft when I can. Sometimes that makes for a messy house and an office that looks like a tornado hit... I'm creative, not neat!

I love to make many things.
I am currently obsessed with making baby wipes cases.
The fabrics I am currently using are
all fabrics that I have purchased from other Etsians.
I am in the process of making pillows though!
I think I have been making crafts all of my life.

I have 3 children and have wipes cases all over my house!
They look so much nicer with pretty fabrics around them!
At first I was making them for myself, then as baby gifts, and then I found Etsy.

Finding time to make things can be difficult, but then it all works out in the end.
I have to put my family first, so sometimes it takes me longer than planned to finish an item. I love it when I finish an item and my husband says "Wow, that's awesome".

Like I said, I only purchase fabric from other Etsy sellers.
I feel that in doing so, I am helping myself and helping others who love the craft as much as me.

What would you most want people to know about your work?
I put my heart into everything I make.
If it's not right, I redo it. If it's not perfect, it's not done!

The best advice I have been given on Etsy has probably been my choice of fabrics.
I was using things that I purchased at local shops, and have found that
the fabrics I purchase now are more popular and eye catching.
My advice, if it's not selling, change it up!

I try to make time at least 3 days a week to either blog, surf the net or just spread my link around. I also try to list items more often. I visit many blogs and take advice from anyone I can. Learning never ends!

Here are a few shops from Etsy that I love: