puppetmaker: (Secret of Sherlock Holmes)
Entitled as such since apparently I have used Crafty Tuesday: The Return before.

For new folks who are reading a little explanation, a number of years ago I started writing about various projects I was working on and issues that affected the artistic community from my perspective.

I decided that Tuesday was going to be my day to devote to this since Monday tends to be the New Who Review when Doctor Who is on or Monday Morning Quarterbacking in which I talk about sports. Wednesday still is Conventional Wisdom when I get back to that.

So Crafty Tuesday is back.

And it is post Dragon Con so I can look back on a creative year and try to figure out what I might attempt before the next Dragon Con.

Currently I have four puppets in the que. Three are commissioned pieces that the people who have paid me have been saints about the deadlines but I want to have all of it done before the end of the year. There is one puppet that I want to get done in the next two days for reasons I can say probably Friday unless I can’t then I can next Tuesday.

I have decided to build more girl puppets than boy puppets within the next year. Not sure if I am going to keep that promise but at least I am going to try. I looked back at what I have done and find that I tend to shy away from doing them so best way to get rid of that fear is to just do it. Also I found a splendid dress form that, with a little padding, will help me to be able to drape dresses properly.

Puppet Dress form photo 12002745_10206491164350661_4851147046491789760_n_zpschvilwrg.jpg
My new Puppet Dress form
(For the VI: This is a white Styrofoam female torso that looks like a dress makers form)

I found it at Joann’s Fabrics in the Halloween area. Apparently there is this new thing about taking these forms and dressing them up. I am a little fuzzy how it is used in crafting but I am very sure this is going to make my life easier. I just have to pad out the middle a little for a true fit.

As for the past year, I didn’t do as many shows as I would have liked including some I have done for years.

However my sales at Dragon Con were good so that’s a plus in my column.

Next year I would like to show my puppets in at least four art shows if not a few more.

Oh, I have decided that Dragon Con is the end of my creative year rather than Dec. 31st because then I have a little less than a year to plan for the next Dragon Con. And because Dragon Con does more to get my creative hamster wheel spinning than anything else I do during the year.

That’s a rough for the next twelve months. Let’s see what I can get done.

I am grateful for the creative charge I get at Dragon Con.
puppetmaker: (Caroline at Nasa)
It is in January that I take a look at the conventions that I will be going to and figure out what I am going to make for each leading to, for me, the big show at Dragon Con.

One of my usual conventions (LunaCon) may be a no go this year. I didn’t go last year either due to a number of factors including Peter’s health. This year I might not be going due to happier circumstances that I will talk about when things solidify a little more.

So that leaves me Farpoint, Shoreleave, and Dragon Con to show at. I have to see if there are any other shows that might be a good place to display my art. If anyone has any ideas, I would like to know.

Usually I use Farpoint and Shoreleave to motivate me for Dragon Con.

Also this year I am going to be building a costume for me for the workmanship contest. It is one of those labor intensive costumes that I contemplate and then discard so this year I plan on doing it. I see a lot of rubber floor mats in my future.

I plan to introduce some new dolls this year. I haven’t done a doll in about two years and it is high time that I started again. Next March will be 10 years since I took the first doll course from Wendy Froud. Time to use that information to create art.

I am thinking that it is time to turn Holmes and Watson into puppets.

I still have the hand puppet Firefly idea floating around.

Also a soft doll idea that might work. I need to do a test or two. If so I don’t think it has been done in fandom and, if it works, it will be cute.

There has been a discussion on one of the doll groups about using one’s fabric stash before we aren’t around to use it. So this year I plan to work my way through the stash with minimal buying of new materials for my projects.

Monster puppets part deux are in the future as well.

I am grateful for things to work with.
puppetmaker: (Angel on my Shoulder)
31 Days until Dragon Con! Yikes!

At this point this blog is probably going to mostly change over to what I am doing for Dragon Con for various things. Blogging about it keeps me honest about what I have done and what I have to do.

I also have Caroline’s Costume to do for Shoreleave (this weekend kids) and I would like to bring the beginnings of the next set of puppets I am working on.

So that’s a bit to do but I am going to start now and just work it. My brain seems to be firing on all cylinders now and my muse knocked on the door with her suitcase in hand so I am going to assume she is going to stay a while.

Here is the Master List of things I would like to get done before Dragon Con

Yes, I am leaving the titles as is. I figure part of the fun will be figuring out what I am going to do with them.

Secret Project #1 (Hand and Rod Puppet)

Secret Project #2 (Hand and Rod Puppet(s)) aka Puppet Slam project

Secret Project #3 (Hand and Rod puppet)

For the Art Show
1) All Magic… (Hand and Rod Puppet)

2) Comes at a Price (Hand and Rod Puppet)

3) Blue Phluzzie (Sort of my signature piece)

4) Yellow Phluzzie (Signature part 2)

5) Grrr (Monster hand puppet)

6) Argh (Monster hand puppet)

7) Goat Boy (Doll)

8) Lioness (Doll)

9) Lion (Doll)

10) Lizard Wizard (Doll)

11) Can’t take a sky from me (Hand puppet set of 9) {This is in my iffy category}

12) Bite my Shiny Metal … (Hand Puppet Set of 9) {Again iffy}

13) Not the Doctor (Hand and Rod Puppet)

14) The Shape Shifter (Hand and Rod Puppet)

And that’s my insane idea of what I can get done in the time allotted time.

I am grateful for my muse showing up even with her baggage.
puppetmaker: (Fluzzies by Kathleen David)
Technically I am done with Art Shows this year. I think my first one next year is Farpoint. Next year are my usual shows of Farpoint, LunaCon, Shoreleave, and DragonCon if I jury into each. I might have one or two others to add.

In doing so, I need to figure out what I would like to do next year. There are always a couple of things I sort out during the year that get added into the mix.

I have been thinking about doing a Firefly puppet set for quite a while. I think I might have it all figured out. But after I heard the comment about “puppet show in the backyard” now I have to make them. Deciding whether to do a set of hand puppets or the large ones.

I am working through my head some new monster type puppets that I think I am going to introduce along with the usual Phluzzies.

The dolls are going to make a comeback this year. I had mostly puppets last year but after a talk with Wendy Froud at NYCC, I have an itch to do the anthropomorphic Victorian dolls (Not calling them Steampunk because I don’t know if I am going that direction.)

Might make a puppet or two based on anime characters. Or maybe some dolls.

Am working on the geometry of what is know as a chibi sort of doll. Same for some stuffed animals that are not puppets which will be a first.

I might have to finish up a few critters that I found in the not quite done box. I have about half a dozen bodies that are only so far along. Some of them are fail experiments at the time but I think I can salvage them.

My goal for the next year is NOT to be rushing right before the convention.

Also I do plan to put some stuff up for sale on Esty this year to see what might happen there.

I open the floor to you my dear reader, based on what I have done before, what would you like to see me do? Remember this is blue skying so just about anything goes except recreations of established puppets.

I am grateful for ideas that work.
puppetmaker: (Boy Wizard Puppet)
I am a day off. I woke up thinking this was Tuesday but I know it is Wednesday because I have class today. Convention time is not normal time and it can take a day or so to get back to the norm.

I finally think I have my puppet slam piece in hand. Now I need to review the puppets that I have. Figure out which I need to make or in this case remake or repair. And that will be done.

Right now I am at the gathering stage of my process. I am making sure I have the things I need to complete my projects. Or at least to get them much further along. Today is going to be “find those things I know I have in my storage area”. I also need to clear out some stuff and move a lot of stuff around for the next day or so. This will allow me to get everything I need where I need it. It got a little more complicated because I have the puppets put somewhere and I don’t think they are even all together any more. Well one problem at a time.

Next is to start at the top of the list and work my way through as efficiently and I can with minimal mess. I am going to be cleaning as I go so once one project is done, I can pull forward the materials for the second one and go from there. I also need to find my box of puppet wigs and see what I need to get. I also need to restock my eyeball box.

It is 22 days to DragonCon so this blog is probably going to get a little quiet or going to be a lot about building and making things. So I declare the rest of this month, Crafty Month!

I am grateful that I have figure out what I am doing for the puppet slam.
puppetmaker: (Boy Wizard Puppet)
So this year I will be attending and showing at
Farpoint (Feb 17-19)
LunaCon (March 16-18th)
Shoreleave (Aug 3-5th Note date change)
DragonCon (Aug 31st to Sept 3rd)
Or that’s all I know at this point.

In terms of costuming, Caroline is going to do Cheshire at Farpoint. I am sure we will come up with something for Shoreleave. And I have a couple of things I need to do for DragonCon. So that’s the costuming end of things.

Now we will be attending a couple of conventions in addition to those but those are the ones I know I will have art in.

DragonCon has you tell them what you are bringing way ahead of the convention so that they can plan for where the tables are and generate barcodes that work for their system. So DragonCon is sort of the end of my season with things like New York Comic Con in as a bonus for showing stuff.

Most years I start thinking about DragonCon almost right after DragonCon but I tend to plan for DragonCon in June so this year I am going to start planning now and get stuff done in a timely fashion. My goal is to get everything that I say I am going to bring down to DragonCon. This is barring the unforeseen like last year’s hurricane which really put a crimp in my plans.

So right now I am trying to sort out what kind of things I want to bring to the shows. I know there will be new dolls and puppets. I am wondering if I should do a mask or two ala the Cheshire mask I made for Caroline. I don’t want to add to much to the mix but it is always good to add something new. I am feeling another set of hand puppets ala the Boy Wizard set I had a couple of years ago. Firefly is still my thought on that.

I have another idea that is rolling around in my head that I might do or might not. I am still on the fence about it.

Puppets are going to play a big roll this year especially since DragonCon will be having a puppetry track for the first time. So I plan to promote puppets this year. I am thinking maybe a marionette or two.

I am grateful for art shows that are great for my kind of art.
puppetmaker: (Default)
A couple of different things I have been thinking about.

DragonCon heads the list because I need to figure out what I am going to show there because that needs a lot of lead time.

In this mix I need to put things for Shoreleave including costumes for Mystery Trekkie Theater (And they have picked a good one this year). Costumes for the girls for Shoreleave if they want to which I would rather figure out now rather than at the beginning of July which has happened a couple of times.

Also for DragonCon I want to get one spiffy costume done for me. I haven’t made myself a costume in ages. I have a couple of ideas but nothing really jelling right now.

In other time commitments I have the DiscWorld dolls, my ATC doll commitments, and a few other potential projects.

It is a good idea to know how much space you have in a show and try setting up your display before hand. See if you can figure out what is going to go wrong and what looks appealing to the customer.

I have one idea that would take up most of my table and I am trying to figure out if it would be worth my time. The WOW factor would be up there but I have to get permission from the original artist to sell it. I do have permission to create it. Also there is the economic question of sales and price points.

There is a discussion in an artist group I am part of about pricing and how scary it can be to raise prices. The assumption is that if you raise prices, your customers will go away or constantly complain about your raising prices. And maybe it happens on occasion but you should have such problems. And, in my experience, raising prices will weed out those who wanted cheap stuff rather than your work in particular. I decided a number of years ago that I would price my stuff at a reasonable cost point so I would make back materials and something for my labor. I also know that those who have bought my pieces really wanted them. Making things shoddier because it would be cheaper is not the way to go.

I do need to make a list of what I want to get done by DragonCOn since I am going to have to submit my paperwork soon.

I have a wacky idea for a plushie that might have to be made to get it out of my head. I do know that I will be making a Ship from Ben 10 this year. There will probably be a Phluzzie or two in the mix. Maybe a Sarah Jane puppet in honor of Liz Sladen. Plus I want to give a go at Steampunk dolls again.

So that’s where my brain is at right now.

I am grateful for a plethora of ideas.
puppetmaker: (Fluzzies by Kathleen David)
This is something that has been mulling around in my head for a while but I seem to be reading almost a perfect storm of both rants and helpful advise about worth. What one’s time is worth. What one’s work is worth. And why everyone seems to think that ephemeral worth is less than the concrete worth, or not as the case maybe.

People ask me why I don’t sell my puppets online. Honestly because between materials and time I would have to charge about 75 dollars a Phluzzie and at least 50 for a hand-puppet if not more. Anything like the Doctors is a minimum of 100 to 150 depending on materials. And that is low-balling my worth as a puppet maker to close to current minimum wage in the US. And, honestly, I think my skill is worth a little more than that. It has taken me years to get where I am today so when you buy one of my puppets, you also buy over 25 years of experience in puppet building.

There is a story about Picasso doing a drawing for a woman at her insistence and telling her it would be 20,000 francs. She said that was absurd that he had done the sketch in 5 minutes. He replied that she was not paying him for just the 5 minutes but for the lifetime he studied to come to this point to be able to do such a sketch in 5 minutes.

Artists spend a lifetime refining their craft. There is a continued learning curve that goes on for as long as you make some form of art. Each project teaches you something new or how to do something better. But that gets lost when you watch someone like Brian Froud do a quick sketch of a Goblin in a book along with his signature. Wow, he makes it look easy but consider what he did to get to the point of making it look easy. There is inane talent but refining that talent is a long road with many twists and turns.

I have been to many art shows at conventions. I have even participated in a number of them all over the US. I walk around and hear conversations that go like this.

Scene: A couple looking at a rather fine original oil painting of a Dragon

Person A: Wow! That’s incredible.

Person B (looks at the bid sheet): I can’t believe they are charging that for something like this. Artist 1 does something like this and charges ½ what this Artist is asking for the same thing.

(Note: Artist 1 is selling a Gliche of a digital painting they did not the original which would be hard since it is digital. I’m not saying that there are less hours or work in digital art but it is easier to recreate the piece than say making a whole other exact oil painting.)

Person B (continued): Besides, I could do something like that. I don’t think it is worth that.

Person A: You’re probably right.

And they walk on to the next bay.

I think the words “I could do something like that” annoy me more than anything else in those exchanges. Really, can you? Well good for you but don’t belittle the talent that when into that Dragon you are dismissing so quickly.

There has been a rash of people trying to get a deal in the Art shows. They don’t bid until the last minute and then they try to keep it at the minimum price so they can get a bargain. I know some artists that lose money in the long run because they figure a sale is better than a good sale and lowball themselves into selling things at less than they are worth. They usually don’t work this out until the end of the year when they are working through their taxes and if themselves taking a loss for something that they though they had taken a profit on.

I don’t sell a lot of pieces in art shows but my minimum bid is the lowest I will go on a piece and not lose money. It is not worth it to me to spend 4 hours on a puppet and sell it for ten dollars when there is at least five dollars worth of materials in the thing. I’d rather hold onto it and sell at a price that recoups my costs and work rather than price it just to sell. Occasionally on an older piece I do price down a bit because I need the room in the house but those are rare.

It does come down to a matter of worth. What a piece is worth to you might be different than what it is worth to me. I have a MacBook. I know I could have gotten another computer with about the same specs from another company but I am willing to pay more for what I get with a Mac and I like what I can do with a Mac.

Artists create art but they also work in the creation of art. Like writers who write books. Writing is hard work. Art is hard work. And the worth of someone’s work when you can’t quantify it, like fixing a car or a roof, can be hard to judge. So we say let the market dictate what our work is worth. The problem is that once we undervalue our work, it can be hard to bring the price up to its true worth.

I am grateful for those people who have seen the value of my work and paid me accordingly.

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