Seed planted.

I finally figured out what to call days like yesterday, when I did lots of work but had nothing to show for it: foundation work. I ran errands, did collage prep work, planted seeds, etc. That’s all laying foundations for future growth. So there — that’ll give this work legitimacy in my own twisted mind. It’s important. It counts.

And, as though to say “so there!” to yesterday’s slow mood, I got so much decoupaging done today. I finally attempted the mandala quilt, and found it was so much trouble, I don’t think I’ll do it again.

It came out okay, though. Still haven’t decided whether I will give it to Jackie for wall art — I think a better use might be to insert it into an art binder to serve as the cover, but we’ll see. It feels kind of personal to me, since it’s so colorful and has that mandala center.

After the mandala, which left me feeling slightly dissatisfied because I’m not sure it will work as a present for Jackie, I started working on the cigar box I picked up at Sunday’s estate sale. Without plan, I just pulled out the browns file and started laying on pieces. Before I knew it, it was nearly dinnertime, and I’d decoupaged the entire exterior. I must say that the precision required for doing the mandala helped me with the cigar box; I became much more aware of edges and shapes and lining them up. I’m very pleased with the box, but I also feel reasonably detached from it, so I think I will set it aside for my launch on Etsy. Yes — I have decided I will indeed open my Etsy shop with decoupaged items, and since the neat edges of the cigar box were so straightforward to do, I will do all cigar boxes to start. There’s no going back, either; I’ve ordered six boxes off Etsy to begin my collection! (Along with some other fun things that I think will basically be an artist date in a box.)

While thinking about pricing for today’s box, I ran into a bit of an uncomfortable feeling. I can’t possibly make the box any cheaper than $100 without completely undervaluing my art, and if I’m to value it properly, I should price it at $250. I could go down to $225 or even $200, depending how it comes out, because it’s not perfect (there are some wrinkles), and because I’m not sure the glaze will be sufficient to preserve the box for posterity. But still, it’ll be at least $200. As an artist, I insist on this. It’s no less than my time, creativity, and the sufferings of my body (clipping and cutting and hunching over!) deserve. But as a consumer, I’m slightly aghast at how much I’m asking for my product, because I could never afford to pay that myself. Well, and I wouldn’t need to, since I can make these myself — which of course changes how I feel about paying a lot for the boxes. I suppose artists have always charged more than they themselves can pay, since art goes to collectors and artists traditionally starve, but it’s still not a feeling I like, knowing my own creations are priced out of my range. But as I say, as an artist, I insist. These boxes are one-of-a-kind creations, made from scraps I have chosen and shaped with my own artist’s eye, and as such they’re completely unique and irreplaceable items. And I put a great deal of time into each one, because the decoupaging itself takes lots of time, and so does the scrap-choosing and cutting.

I figure I’ll start the boxes around $200, and if Etsy won’t support these prices, well, I’ll have given it a try, and my friends and family will have some f***ng beautiful Christmas presents this year. 😉 And that’ll be fine too.

Ideas for the Etsy shop:

  • Look up copyright laws on collages.
  • TEST: lightfastness, cleaning/care instructions, spray versus glaze versus matte finish, ways of smoothing out or avoiding wrinkles.
  • Note approximately how long it take me to do my next box. Also note time spent on clipping on my next foundation day.
  • When the boxes I’ve just ordered arrive, tag each with price paid and any provenance info.
  • Wait to open shop until I have a decent-sized inventory. What is that? I don’t know. Five boxes? Ten? A dozen?
  • Make sure to set up “shop policies” section before opening shop, and that opening blurb each shop has. In both sections, be sure to lay out policy of discounts issued if people send me magazines/decoupage materials. (Baseline either 10% or free shipping, PLUS refund for their shipping cost. Can be much more depending on quality of materials — which I will determine. No water-damaged or smoke-smelling materials accepted or credited. Convo preferred before sending, in case I already have/have opinions on the materials, and because shipping will probably be rather expensive for these things. Also name preferred materials: National Geographic, Architectural Digest esp. French, cigar boxes of course!)
  • Research packaging (cardboard box + plastic wrapper + padding is probably best, but check for eco-friendliness) and shipping costs. Also consider how to wrap boxes to make them pretty. Sew bags out of my cloth scraps?? That’d be really cute, but would take more time and money.
  • Research Paypal and other payment options.
  • Make sure to include description for each item, comprising a standard description (how much time these take me, materials used, uniqueness, care instructions, usage suggestions) and an individual description (inspiration/theme, date created, provenance of box?).
  • Post as often as possible on Facebook and LJ to drum up friends’ support. See if Gregory is interested for AT?
  • If the boxes sell well, source fresh boxes regularly from yard sales, Etsy, and Ebay. Ideally I won’t pay more than $5/box, including shipping, and prefer to pay less.
  • Decide how to do friends/family discounts, and whether to tell people about this.