Sunday, May 29, 2011
Signing Your Artwork
Bead woven jewelry still does not easily lend itself to an artist's mark and again most of this work is left unsigned or tags are attached that don't often remain with the work. Why should you care? Ultimately the mark is there for the future. Beadwork encompasses a huge body of work that has lasted for centuries and has had historical significance. Time will tell if patterns emerge and whether we can trace an artist's growth and influences through the years. At the very least, your mark will be important to your buyers and/or your family for future generations.
Bead embroidery artists have learned from quilters and embroidery artists and many have begun finding small ways to mark their creations. Since most of this type of work has a fabric backing of some sort, there are places the artist can write or embroider their initials. It's this type of beadwork signature I'm currently exploring. In this post I concentrate on my first steps in branding my designs.
Cat Ivins hosts a series of giveaways on her blog Olivebites. It was there that I discovered Bullfrog Laserworks, and owner Roberto Sand. He was giving away a custom stamp, so off to his shop I went. I was astounded at what I saw. I had been looking for awhile at having a custom stamp made for cards and packaging, and Roberto's are not only functional, they are beautiful.
These stamps are wonderful, but they weren't the most amazing item I found in his shop. The second item is still in the prototype stage, but we're getting close. Roberto has wooden tags he initially designed as wedding favors. The slots in these tags caught my eye because I had been looking for slotted buttons (also called ribbon slides) to use on my laced back cuffs.
Because of the small size of the button (7/8") the slots are not centered to allow room for the text. Roberto is sending me a sample so I can see if it rests properly on the cuff, if it doesn't we'll go back to using two holes for the ultrasuede to hook through. I'll be able to color these buttons and perhaps put artwork on the reverse side. I'm looking forward to playing with them and seeing where else they can be used and how I can alter them to coordinate with my design.
But wait, there's more! As excited as I was about these discoveries, I was nearly jumping out of my chair when I saw his listing for 50 faux suede labels custom engraved! We began a long exploratory journey into faux suede while I considered the most practical use of these amazing labels. I knew it would be too expensive for me to have multiple shapes cut, so I settled on a large circle with my logo at approximately 25mm in the middle. This would fit the majority of the cabochon pendants I make. The faux suede Roberto offers in his shop is not ultrasuede, it's a polyester blend that frays. This is not the end of the world, when the laser cuts out your shape it seals the edges. For me, though, that would require pieces to match the size of all my cabochons, I wanted more flexibility. I asked if I could send him some ultrasuede to use and was delighted when he agreed.
We were both thrilled with the results although I did discover that light to medium colors work best. As you can see, the logo did not show up well on the black and I loved the tone on tone result on the Orange ultra suede.
I quickly worked up a couple of Izze pendants and couldn't be happier with the look. They add a professional touch while also keeping to the whimsy I like in my beaded work. I'm looking forward to incorporating the stamps on my metalwork and anticipate a more industrial feel if what I envision works out as planned.
So now what to do for my cuffs? Since these are made in various widths, it just wasn't practical to laser engrave them. My first experiment was with heat embossing. I was at one time addicted to HGTV. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. My realization came when my daughter (then only 2) exclaimed "it's Joan" when the host of one of my favorite shows came on the air. I learned about heat embossing velvet from Carol Duvall a longtime host of all things crafts. I thought I'd try to see if it worked on ultrasuede. It will be hard to see in this picture, but it works amazingly well. I set the iron at the "wool" setting, placed the stamp image side up and layered the ultrasuede on top. I held the iron on the ultrasuede for 10-20 seconds, pressing firmly. I lifted carefully and repeated until I could begin to see the indentation of the stamp.
My last experiment for this post was using the stamps and Staz-on ink. The image to the left is the larger logo and the one on the right is the smaller one. Both work well and this is the method I'll use for my cuffs. With the smaller stamp, I'll need to press very firmly to work the ink into the grain of the ultrasuede. I did these quickly and got good results, taking time and experimenting with ink colors will yield even better results.
I like the boldness of the laser cut images, but these are a great alternative.
Roberto opened his etsy shop in 2008 and has grown quite successfully due to his unique product offerings, great prices and flexible customer service. He has targeted the bridal market in the past, perhaps now the bead market will be a new venture for him as well. You can find more in his etsy shop: http://www.RobertoSand.etsy.com