Archives for posts with tag: Handmade

I haven’t written anything in the last few months, because quite frankly, I have been embarrassed beyond belief to admit just how hard this economy has hit me.

Then a few months ago, I met a pair of business partners who book celebrity guest speakers, clergy and artists for luxury cruise liners, and within seconds the entrepreneur in me was reborn.   I headed straight into the studio that afternoon to design a handbag that not only highlights their company spirit, I also found a way to print fabric from that image that allowed me to line the bag with their company logo and create a handmade clutch to match!

I am working hard to launch a new corporate gifts link on my website, with humidors, jewelry boxes, decorative boxes – just about anything and everything  made from wood – because corporations will always exist and so will holidays and special occasions.

 

I’m told that its considered bad form in business to admit when things aren’t what you want them to be.  Everyone wants to be in league with a winner, and I want to be a winner more than words could EVER begin to describe.  This economy is not only making it hard to maintain a respectable level of success no matter how much time or effort I invest,  it adds an additional level of pressure to appear as though business is booming, even though, its not.  I want my collectors to feel as though they have made a wise investment by supporting my business, but I also feel I am doing other artists a disservice by trumpeting a career that, at the moment anyway, isn’t what it used to be.

And then comes an event that puts my struggles in perspective.  An extremely talented artist I know posted  few days ago on her facebook page that a good friend of hers lost her 37 year old husband recently and without warning, leaving her with two small children to raise on her own.  My friend, Julie Miller Havel, is spearheading a raffle to help raise money for this young mother, so I immediately offered to donate a handbag, and was glad for the chance to do so.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to suddenly find yourself without your husband, or how on earth you explain to your children that their father is gone, and if not having the art career I had hoped for at this point in time is the worse thing I can say about my life, then I am very lucky indeed. http://www.sarahmoorefamily.org

I also have the chance to support a zoo fundraiser in Salina, Kansas called the Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure Zoo-La-La Raise the Roof Celebration.  Its June 3 at the Rolling Hills park starting at 6:30 pm. This is what they will be auctioning off….

I have a brand new handbag as the centerpiece of a Ladies Night Art Walk in the cities of Golden and Littleton, Colorado from 4 to 8 pm on May 5 (the horse handbag at the top of this post). I also have a pinto tote up for grabs in a drawing for the event.  Check out the Spirits in the Wind Gallery, one of the hosts of this remarkable evening. www.spiritsinthewindgallery.com

I am not sure where the next few months will take me, but I continue to remain hopeful that everything happens for a reason, and that even though I have been ready for great things for more years than I can count, “God’s timing” as they say, “is not my timing”….and from what I hear, waiting never killed anyone….

 

I am back from the Natureworks Show in Tulsa and before I go any further I just have to say this.  I wish every art show on the planet was like Natureworks.  This event was started over thirty years ago by Bill Cox and Ken Greenwood in an effort to provide artists with  an exclusive outlet for their work (and a MUCH appreciated respect for the incredible diversity of sheer talent on BOTH sides of the “artistic fence”), and the citizens of Tulsa with a host of arts programs and public art works, paid for with the proceeds of the sale.   High school art students compete for and receive generous college scholarships, the riverwalk near Oral Roberts University features dozens of wildlife sculptures from some of the most talented wildlife artists on the planet displayed in a beautiful park setting, the Federal Duck Stamp Program and the National Elk Refuge all receive support and donations from the organization.

The show is run by volunteers from all walks of life; there is a retired general, a bank manager, a mortgage broker, an ex-sheriff…you name it.  Every year they put up the booths and most of the lights, help unload and unpack, host an artists dinner, feed us lunch, host an opening night event that brings in hundreds if not thousands of prospective buyers.  There is a hospitality suite, an artists breakfast, and every year, a gift of some kind to say thank you to the artists for participating in the show.  A few years ago, it was a directors chair with our names on them.  This year it was a cooler.  Sometimes its a handmade pencil box, or a thermos.  The point is, the people who run the show treat us like they think we are worth something, and while that may sound like a no brainer on one hand, you’d be surprised by the number of art shows and promoters who feel artists are a dime a dozen.  I’ve been kicked out of shows for something as simple as telling one show promoter that I didn’t want to be across from a particularly disruptive artist because his constant, unpredictable and explosive outbursts were unprofessional and severely impacting my sales (and, consequently their percentage of my sales) and he got invited back the next year while I didn’t.  So being at a show where the promoters treat you well is truly an added benefit.

I didn’t make a tremendous number of sales at this years event, but I came away from the show with some fantastic trades, some wonderful memories, and the feeling that I am loved and appreciated by people I truly admire and trust. So thank you Ray and Linda Goldsmith, Lon and Bonnie Canada, Tiny and Barbara Thompson, Doug Collins, Steve and Mary Ann Iverson, Treak Trasker, Sue Gideon, Chelley Wallack, Glenn and Judy Wright and Jon and Leigh  Reaves, among DOZENS of others.  You guys are the absolute BEST!

I am back in the studio again and working on all kinds of ideas for upcoming events.  I have started doing decorative boxes and hope to branch out into wine boxes, jewelry boxes and trinket boxes, plus I also started doing gourds and paintings again, so I am also going to be updating my website to reflect the new works I am adding to my product line.  I am not sure where all of this will lead, but I am finally at the point in my life where I truly believe that every day is the best day of my life because its the only day I have.  And I intend to make the most of each one.

 

When I was twenty I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do with my life, and I often felt that if I could have barreled ahead without restraint, I would have been where I THOUGHT I wanted to be a long, LONG time ago.  But I am also reminded of two quotes that have defined my life, and how grateful I am at this particular point in time that I didn’t get where I wanted to be thanks to the lessons I learned along the way.

Patience is NOT one of my virtues, as anyone who knows me well can tell you, and yet, when it comes to my art career, I will take all the time I need to get things just right. I had no idea how to make a purse, or where to market one, where to find the hardware…I used to carry a BACKPACK, if I carried anything at ALL, and, anyway,  I’d invested fifteen years of my life in a career as the top gourd artist in the nation. I’d been on HGTV, had articles written on my work in the Wall Street Journal, Southwest Art Magazine and Wildlife Art news, participated in group exhibits, had one woman shows, gave demonstrations at gourd festivals and gallery shows all over the country and even presented a gourd commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the Gombe Research Center to  my hero, Jane Goodall.  I  sold a gourd to golf legend Hale Irwin, was commissioned by the executive producer of the Lord of the Rings to create a piece for the Lord of the Rings; The Two Towers with Golum, Frodo and Sam Gangee, and I still hold the record for the most expensive gourd ever sold at $22,500.

It always bothered me that people spent HUGE sums of money on artwork they left at home.  No one buys Christian Louboutin shoes, a Rolex, a Prada bag, or a Christian Dior dress JUST to leave it in the closet, so why do people buy gorgeous works of art to leave them at home?  It seemed to me you could have an AMAZING accessory that was ALSO an incredible addition to your art collection.

And so, I embarked on the journey of a lifetime when I decided to combine art with function in one of a kind and limited edition handbags…I wasn’t going to line the purses at first, until one very wise woman  pointed out that without a lining, you would hear everything you carried rattling around inside it.  I knew I wanted to work with wood but I didn’t know how to protect the purses against water damage. I knew I wanted to hand bead some of the handles, but the last time I tackled a bead work project with any great enthusiasm,  I wound up with a pile of very expensive seed beads and a loom that gathered dust for years until I finally gave it to the Goodwill.

As the saying goes, “If you want to hear the sound of God’s laughter, tell him your plans” and I am convinced I have had God in stitches most of my life.  I spent HOURS on the internet trying to find fabric and handles and beads and varnishes, craft shows, art shows, wholesale shows and boutiques, and just when I thought I had one aspect of the design process worked out, something else came along to challenge my approach; how do you secure all the things on a travel trailer handbag that make the handbag so fun to carry without sacrificing its function; how do you finish the back of a leopard handbag when the front and the insides are so captivating; how do you wrap images around handbag when it has irregular sides, and THEN finish the entire thing in gold leaf?

Its been an interesting process but, as the other saying I define my life by so eloquently states, “Its the journey, its not the destination”.  I have had some amazing support this past year from some truly remarkable women, and I thank you all for believing in me when I’d started to think this might have just been the dumbest idea I’d ever come up with….

I can hardly believe that 2011 is right around the corner, but I already have two very exciting shows lined up in February and March (The American Crafts Council Show in Baltimore, MD and Natureworks in Tulsa, OK) that are inspiring me to hit the studio with great passion and determination.  I have so much I want to do and such great opportunities ahead of me that the sky is the limit.

There will be more insights in the days to come, but for the moment I just wanted to say to all of you who have been on this journey with me, whether you know it or not, your faith in my work has been the fire that has helped light my way.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart….

Much has happened in the last week or two; most of it has been really great, but some of it feels like I am in slogging my way through quicksand.  Despite appearances to the contrary where the bags are concerned, patience is not my strong suit.  I am ready to be the next Judith Leiber NOW….but, the universe evidently has other plans, because for every step forward I take, I seem to take two steps back.  Or as a friend of mine so aptly puts it “if you want to hear the sound of God’s laughter, tell him your plans”.

The good news is that several of my bags have been accepted into Julie’s Art to Wear in New York.  One of my best collectors brought this amazing boutique to my attention, having been a patron of the store for many years.  Julie Schafler Dale practically created the art to wear movement, and her store, on Madison Avenue, is an institution.  And no, NOT the kind you would expect me to be locked away in, thank you very much!

I also finished my first jaguar bag.  I have done jaguar evening bags before, but nothing this elaborate.  It has 23 carat gold leaf on the front and back of the bag, which is also lined with a matching print. It comes with a  jaguar print hand made clutch as well.

I finished my first Mah Jongg bag…this one is a tote, and I am already in discussions with the head of the American Mah Jongg League to take samples to their next competition for the purposes of selling these new beauties to a captive audience.  The image on the front of the bag features the flower suite, and the handpainted symbols on the bottom are Chinese for…what else? Mah Jongg!!!!!

I have been wait listed for two shows; the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore, and the Palm Beach Craft Show in Palm Beach Florida.  That’s not so good, but its better than being told they don’t want you at all, right?

The trade show in Florida didn’t go as well as anyone would have liked.  But on the other hand, I am in discussions with a boutique in Maryland that looks promising.

I was named the Handbag Designer of the Day by handbagdesigner101.com

http://www.handbagdesigner101.com/designer/669/dcm_(squared)_condit_denise

And finally, I made my You Tube debut as promised.   I’ve gotten 336 hits so far in the first week alone, and a spam email from someone trying to sell me on signing up with their service to help promote the segment.  How did I know it was a spam email? Because whoever wrote it told me I had “an amazing voice”.  I would have clicked on the link if he would have said I had an adequate voice.  After all, there IS still such a thing as truth in advertising, isn’t there????

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqCSx76wQFQ

Don’t forget that I am offering 20 percent off any handbag on my site until December 1 along with free shipping.  So let me know what you want for Christmas and I will have my elves get right on it.  But first, I probably need to find some elves…..

www.denisemeyers.com

The handbag business is continuing to make minor strides in the marketplace with several new developments.  An online interview I gave last April to a handbag design website was posted this morning, and even though the questions I was asked to respond to were left out of the article (making for some pretty choppy transitions) I am pleased that it was finally published!

Handbag Designer 101 Interview

Secondly, my work is being debuted at the Trendz Accessories show in West Palm Beach, Florida and is being handled by a handbag rep who services Florida, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico, so hopefully by this time next week I will be up to my eyebrows in orders.

Thirdly, I managed to get portfolios to three top boutiques in Wilmington, Baltimore, and New York City where I hope to establish accounts before Christmas.  The boutique in Maryland is calling with an order, which is good, because I really need to have my Christmas accounts in a row and filled at least two weeks before Christmas.  And I have an idea for a handbag that will have all seven on the big cats on it for one very lucky lady to open on Christmas morning!

I also had a previous client contact me with a spectacular insight into what she thinks makes the bags so fabulous. She said women spend a lot of money on shoes so people can look….at their feet?  She thinks women should invest in a beautiful handbag, because a unique handbag can help you make a statement about who you are and what you are about better than just about anything else you can think of.  And of course, she’s right!!!!

So if anyone wants to get on board the Christmas Express to make a statement about who you are and what YOU are about, now would be a good time to do it!!   I am offering 20% off any handbag, evening bag or tote on the site, along with free shipping.

Happy Holidays!!!

www.denisemeyers.com

I am conflicted. Christmas decorations are already up at most businesses in town and it isn’t even Halloween yet….

But I have a feeling that if I don’t start reminding people now that Christmas is almost upon us, they will wait until the last minute to place their orders……

That would be a real shame…..

Because these handbags don’t make themselves you know….

Although, it would be nice if they did….

So here’s to Christmas….

May it be ever so bright…….

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There is a cycle to my work that I  have experienced since the day I first decided to become an artist.  The idea phase is probably the one I embrace the most, because I allow ideas to float in and out of my head until I find one I can develop and grow.  On occasion, I  have been lucky enough to see the finished product in full, before I even start, but that is rare.  I dreamt about a finished work once, even though I hadn’t even started on the piece, and within weeks, it was not only completed, it looked exactly the way I had seen it in my dream. A few years later, when I saw it displayed in the collectors home who eventually bought it, it took my breath away. I had worked on it with such intensity, and sold it so quickly, that I barely remembered creating it.  As I stood before it, I thought, “Oh my God, what a beautiful….wait a minute….I did that!”

For the past six weeks, I have been hard at work creating pieces for a collector in California, finishing a commission, and completing a trade I made with a very talented photographer many years ago.  In the middle of all of this, I had a garage sale, I put a bunch of stuff on ebay, bought a Flip camcorder for a YouTube project I am working on to promote the handbags, figured out how to use iMovie to create our submission for the Amazing Race 18 (provided there is one, of course) have been putting the finishing touches on several evening bags and totes that will go in the mail tomorrow to my first ever handbag rep for a trade show in Florida.

Its been fun, and exhausting, but the process of watching this business begin to develop, to see the reaction to the work, and to be approached by boutiques and galleries interested in promoting the bags, tells me I am on the right road.  I can’t wait to see where it goes….

Just got back from the Sausalito Art Festival last night.  After 96 hours in a van loaded to the rafters (do vans even HAVE rafters?) two weeks, and 5575 miles later, there is SO much wonderful stuff to report.  I have been trying to get into the Sausalito Art Festival since I first became an artist, and I can honestly say that the hype was everything I had hoped it might be.  The staff at the festival makes everything so effortless; the tents were set up for us, electricity was provided, volunteers were on hand to ferry your equipment to your booth.  We were given food coupons for all three days of the festival, so no one had to stand in long lines waiting to order $8.00 hamburgers, or $4.00 cups of ice cream.  Breakfast AND lunch were provided, and the opening night festivities were perfection…an open bar, sushi, dim sum and antipasto, followed by dinner and dancing in the main tent.  There were two bands who played on opening night, and enough food for an army, plus I actually sold on opening night,  unheard of at events like this.

The weather was unbelievable; it was between 79 and 84 degrees, and the location was sublime…right on the bay where hundreds of houseboats and sailboats were either docked or moored.  The Bangles, The Fixx, Jefferson Starship and Dave Mason all played at the main tent, and local bands played on a smaller, more intimate stage, not 100 feet from my booth.  I was busy all weekend long and made a number of sales on Saturday and Sunday.  Monday was quieter, until a woman showed up asking me to call a collector who bought five handbags on Saturday. My initial response was one of dread; usually when that happens, something is broken, chipped, doesn’t match the couch, the husband didn’t like it, the handle broke,  or there is some other problem.  I was absolutely delighted beyond belief to find out that this collector wanted to buy even more bags, and I can’t wait to find out what new bags I get to make for her!

As if that wasn’t enough, I got a call on the way home from a handbag rep who wants to promote my line in Florida,  and THEN I got an email from a gallery owner in Florida who also wants to purchase some bags for a gallery in Naples.  I got an idea for a new line of handbags based on vintage travel trailers, and when I got home, my house sitter asked if I wanted some slightly damaged luggage stickers that her grandmother, who helped found Swiss Air, collected from the 1930’s to use on bags,
and when I saw what she had to offer, I flipped.

I can hardly wait to get back into the studio.  It feels really good to know that I not only had a good show and an excellent time in San Francisco, but that I am more convinced than ever that I am onto something really huge…

Come join me at the Sausalito Art Festival at Marinship Park in Sausalito, California on September 4, 5 and 6.  I will be in booth 317, on the grass,near the tennis courts.  I will also have a piece on display at the Western Design Conference at the Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole, September 10, 11, 12. Hope to see you there!