Monday, July 24, 2017

Learn to Make Memory Wire Bracelets

Learn to Make Memory Wire Bracelets Online


I finally did it. The thing I had been putting off forever, making excuses about and coming up with 100 other things to do instead.


I created my first ONLINE class and I posted it to Skillshare this past Friday.

I didn't really know what I was doing, and yep, the day it went live, I realized that one of the videos had this doofy little clip hanging on at the end that should have been cut out. The lighting isn't the greatest and I say "um" and "so" a lot, but it's a start. I can work on those parts for the next class and although it was scary and not easy, I know this was a hurdle I had to get over and just get it done.

If you've ever thought of recording an online class, I encourage you to put it out there-doofiness and all. You will get better and learn as you go. I've already learned a ton from experiments with lighting, recording, re-recording, trying to keep my daughter and husband and dog out of the room while recording, shaking the table, muting the sound accidentally-it's been an adventure!

Do it even if you hate the sound of your voice, or your hair looks weird or your hands look wrinkly or whatever. Don't listen to the voice that tells you all the reasons why you shouldn't and comes up with all the other-things-you-could-be-doing-instead, like oh, you know, folding laundry or scrubbing the toilet. Do those things that scare you and do them as quickly as you can. Fear feeds on time spent thinking about it.

If you've ever wanted to learn how to make memory wire bracelets (like the photo above-you can enable the images or view it in your browser) or if you're curious about Skillshare, please stop in and check out my class.

If you use my link, you will get 2 free months of Skillshare and you can cancel anytime (so you can watch my video and then cancel if you want.) I get $10 for every person who signs up with my link and then I get paid for how many minutes my videos are watched, that's how Skillshare works.

If you're curious about Skillshare as a teaching platform, I'll be sharing more of my experience as I go along. I've joined it myself as a student and I've been having a blast watching some of the other classes-there are some really good art, jewelry making and business classes on there and I will share some of my favorites in an upcoming post.

For now, if you'd like to view the whole class, just click right here and it will take you there.

Enjoy your free class and maybe think about making one of your own?

Happy Learning,

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Adding Texture and Patina to Metal

I wanted to show you the projects we've been working on in our Jewelry 102 Class. 

My inspiration for these earrings was from a tutorial I saw in Belle Armoire Jewelry magazine this month by Kathy Combs. She did a lot of etching in her demos, which I did not do, but her tutorial on making the paint, as well as how to make your own enameled head pins motivated me to give them a try. 

Here are my versions:

These are hand cut from pure copper sheet metal and then filed, sanded and run through the Sizzix Big Kick Machine using an embossing folder.

We then punch holes and add color. We are using Ranger Patina's in class, but you can also make your own using a 50-50 mixture of craft paint and vinegar until you get a milky consistency. The turquoise earrings in the center are made using the paint mixture.

I'm also now obsessed! with making enameled headpins. SO FUN! Must order more opaque enamels though, my stash is mostly transparent and they don't show up well on the headpins.

For the enameled headpins, you make a balled headpin with your microtorch (I used sterling silver) and then dip the hot ball of metal in the enamel powder, torch it again and dip again until you get the size head pin you are looking for. 

I will try and make a quick video very soon to demonstrate how to make the headpins. You can see mine above in the turquoise photo as well. The little blue headpins are peeking out from the bottom.

I'm really happy with how these earrings came out. They're time consuming to make, but I think the result is well worth it. I'll be making a variety of Spring Colors to send out to stores and will be posting them in my Etsy store too. 

Is there something you would like to learn how to make? Have questions? Leave a comment and let me know.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

15 Free and Low-Cost Places to Host Workshops

I've been teaching art and jewelry classes in Syracuse for a few years now and I've learned to be creative about finding space to host classes and workshops. Keeping the cost of the space low, helps increase your profit for each class.

Here is a list of places I have held classes, to get your own ideas flowing.
  1. Skype or Zoom-You can use these platforms to teach live classes to people who don't live in your area. It makes it a little trickier than actually being in the room with someone, but totally do-able.
  2. Private Lessons in Student's Homes-I offer private lessons and will travel to people's homes to teach. I used to offer 1:1 classes, but now I just do groups, as it wasn't cost effective to do private lessons.
  3. In a Library-I currently co-host a Mixed-Media Art Exchange Group in a Public Library. We use the space for free and are on their calendar too, so sometimes we get walk-ins from the public who saw it on the calendar.
  4. In a College Activity Center-I teach a class once a year for graduating seniors at a local college. I could also approach local colleges, particularly over the summer, to see if space is available to host a class. Some have space that is available to rent to the public.
  5. In a Non-Profit Agency-I host a local class at a non-profit agency. If you're offering a fund-raiser for a group, they often have space you can use for your class.
  6. In a YURT in the woods. OK, so these aren't generally available, but I'm lucky enough to have friends who have an outdoor classroom, called a Yurt, that they let me use for classes. We host an annual Yurt Yoga and Painting class there and I've also done kids classes there as well.
  7. In a Restaurant-I stumbled on a restaurant/gift shop that has an adorable little cottage and patio in the back, complete with plants and shade-the perfect Artists Cottage. I asked if I could host an event there and we worked out a deal for a 1/2 day painting workshop that included lunch, tea and dessert.
  8. In an Art Co-op. If you're a part of an art co-op, chances are they host classes or have considered it. Start a conversation and see where it goes. I host MANY of my classes in art co-ops I belong to. The added bonus is that people can see the work you sell and the co-ops help to promote the class and take registrations.
  9. In a Church-They often have community rooms available for public use for free, donation or low cost.
  10. In your own home-I have offered small classes and private lessons in my home every now and then. This can be a good place to get started.
  11. In a Field or Park-Set up a tent in a field or rent a pavillion in a park and teach outside  in the fair weather months
  12. In a Gift Shop-I teach art classes in a small gift shop. The owner moves items to the side and sets up small 2 to 4 person tables to make for a cozy teaching space.
  13. In a Community Center-I've rented space in a community center for very low cost. Lots of parking, accessibility and space.
  14. In a High School Art Room-I teach through a local Adult Education program offered by my school district and we use one of the Art Rooms for our class. This is actually ideal for our class and works out great.
  15. In a garage-I've both taught and taken classes held in garages. This is not unusual for jewelry making with torches or painting with messy splashing and spraying. I've also used a friend's driveway, come to think of it, and the neighbor's dog stopped over and peed on the paintings while they were drying..good and memorable times!
If you found these ideas helpful, you may be interested in my latest project, "Teaching Creative," my new website. I'm gathering posts on teaching, interviewing creative teachers and providing tons of information for creative entrepreneurs (like you!) who want to add classes, workshops, courses or retreats to your business.

You can grab the free worksheet: "32 Ways to Earn Income Teaching What You Love" and get more tips and info. on teaching your own courses, right to your inbox. Sign up below to be the first to see Teaching Creative it when it goes live and to kick-start your own classes.

Grab Your Free List of 32 Ways to Earn Income Teaching

* indicates required

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Toying with the Idea of Buying a Sip and Paint Franchise?

If you've been thinking about teaching Wine and Paint Classes, then the idea of purchasing a franchise may have crossed your mind at one time or another.

Businesses like Painting with a Twist, the first and largest paint and sip franchise in the US, have good track records of success. Painting with a Twist has maintained  its spot as the nation’s top franchise in the industry. It ranked as the #1 Paint and Sip Studio in Entrepreneur magazine’s 38th Annual Franchise 500® edition, for the fourth year in a row. (Read the full article here.)

The support and success can be tempting, but is a franchise right for you?

A few years back, an artist friend of mine started talking about opening a franchise for kids art classes, and with all due love and respect to her, I thought it was the WORST idea possible for her and here's why:

She is one of those people who never actually stops creating and just about everything she makes is spectacular. Having to limit herself to a franchise that tells you what to paint and how to paint it, would be like caging a hummingbird. She needs to fly and she needs to be in constant creative motion. It's my belief that a franchise would be too limiting to her creative spirit. Having to teach something a certain way (that isn't her way) is not something I can see her doing for very long-pretty sure she would go rogue and start spray painting the kids.

She doesn't want a "job" and she says she is not cut out for a job. She's an artist and she works when she feels like working. To have to show up at a studio and teach kids on a schedule, could quickly begin to feel like a job. In fact, franchising has been described as "buying yourself a job." All of the things she enjoys about her current lifestyle, would be gone.

She was tempted by the "proven system" and the marketing support. She was tired of always having to work hard to drum up students for her (very unique and inspiring) classes when she did hold them. She wanted really, to be able to show up and teach and run a successful business that would support her financially. And maybe it would, but my concern was that it might just crush her free-spirited-art-loving self. I would not want to see her make a huge investment, only to feel imprisoned in a year.

I suggested that if she wanted a franchise, she should start one herself and be the franchiser, the parent company, not the franchisee. She's an original and she's someone who could figure it out and then teach others how to do it.

So, what about you? Do you like a lot of structure, guidance, rules and systems? Do you want someone to tell you exactly what colors to paint your walls and what to paint during each class? There can be comfort in that. When you buy a franchise, you pay the franchisee to help you every step of the way and you exchange a great deal of control (and money) for this support. I've never owned a franchise, but I expect it's like having a business coach who keeps you on track and guides you so you succeed.

It's perfect for some people and not so good for others, like my friend. If you're thinking of buying a franchise, do your due diligence:
  • Find out if there are openings (or territories) in your area
  • Ask for a list of other owners you can talk to. Have a list of questions ready for them and talk to at least 3. Try to get a good sense of what a day in the life of an owner is like.
  • Visit a location and take a class with one of the franchisees
  • Get the structure and the vibe before you commit and make sure it's a good match with your style
  • Know the full costs, both start-up and ongoing
  • Decide if you want a location based franchise, like Painting with a Twist or a Community Based Option like Paint Nite. Each type has their pros and cons.
Ready to dive in and do some research? Here are some of the top franchises in the industry from the 2017 Entrepreneur Magazine. Each link will take you to a summary of the franchise.

Painting with a Twist
Initial Investment $89K-$143K

Pinot's Palette
Initial Investment $77K-$197K

Bottle and Bottega
Initial Investment $97K-158K

Wine and Design

If you're more like me, you would rather earn extra income on the side teaching wine and paint classes in your community or your own studio than run a full-out franchise business. You want to do it your way and you might do other things as well. These classes can be easy to get going on your own, you don't have to commit your life savings to buy a job you might not enjoy.

Trying it on your own first, might be a good way to test the waters to see if you even need the support of a franchise. Maybe what you are able to book and fill with happy students on your own, is all you actually need.

If you want to quickly get started with the do-it-yourself version contact me right here for a free, 20 minute, laser focused coaching call (no worries, I'm not selling anything and I could potentially save you 100K.) We'll review where you are right now, answer any questions you have and brainstorm ideas to get your class out of your head and onto the calendar. Getting that date booked will get you into action mode faster than anything else can.
If email is more your style, grab the free worksheet and start working toward "Getting Your First Class Booked in the Next 30 Days" and start making it happen!

Happy Painting!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

7 Hacks for Teaching Wine and Paint Classes

I sometimes teach BIG classes of 30+ students eager to paint. That's a lot of canvas and materials to transport, so I've devised ways to save time, money and the amount of stuff to haul.

I am not naturally organized, so this process has evolved from trial and error over the years. Here are some things you may find helpful as you set up your own wine and paint classes:

#1: Bring help for larger classes. Have a friend or older child join you to help with set up, tear down and assist students during class. It typically takes me about an hour to set up for a larger class, including bringing things in from the car, laying the tablecloths down and preparing each station with easels, canvas, paints, brushes, water cups and paper towels. 

Having an extra set of hands is needed to keep this to about an hour as well as to assist students during the class with extra paint, getting fresh water and answering questions. You may want to ask your assistant to take photos during and after class too.

#2: Pre-dispense the paints based on the sample. I prefer to pre-dispense paints on paper plates because it saves time and paint but I also love when people get creative. Students who want different choices can come up to the table and add their extra choices to the pre-dispensed options. This is not exactly a money saving option, but I love when people get really into it and want to branch out.

#3: Set up drying stations with regular old hairdryers, to speed the process between layers. Students can take their painting over and dry the layer they just finished. Make sure to put something down to protect the surface of the drying station as well. This keeps the class moving, especially if you need something dry before you can move on to the next stage. I like to paint in layers and my students love this too.

#4: Make it easy to see the finished painting. I print out mini-versions of my painting on my computer before class and place one at each station. In larger classes the students may not be able to see the example you have on display, so this way they have it at their seat to refer to. I got this idea from a class I attended myself and my students seem to really like it too. 
Another option is to ask the students to take a photo on their phone to keep at their station. Certainly less work on your part to achieve the same result.

#5: Consolidate Supplies. I transport my loose supplies in 2 plastic bins with lids. Aprons and easels go in one bin. Paints, brushes, cups, paper plates, towels and tablecloths in the other one. The canvas are separate. 

I always pack extra supplies, just in case more people show up or something happens to a canvas. Extra paint, paper towels, paper plates and canvas will keep your mind at ease and you won't stress about running out. 

Wondering where to buy supplies? Here is a post on where I buy everything.

#6: Make Clean-Up Quick. I take large, gallon-size ziplock plastic bags for quick clean up. The paint brushes go in a zip-lock to clean at home after class. The paint water gets dumped and the plastic cups go into a plastic grocery bag to also be washed at home. I take trash bags to make garbage removal easy. Depending on the condition of the tablecloths when your students are done, I may keep them or toss them.

#7: Collect aprons before students leave. I ask students to take off their aprons and put them on the back of their chairs. It's best to do this before photos. Aprons have a tendency to walk out during the larger classes, because people forget they have them on and get very caught up in the excitement of sharing their work and taking photos at the end of class. It's good to issue the reminder to insure you get them back.

Ready to start teaching your own classes? Grab the free worksheet "Get Your First Class Booked in the Next 30 Days.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Daily Creative Update-Painting!

Some of you have been wondering if I've been keeping up with my daily creative practice and the answer is YES! but not in exactly the way that I wanted to.

I have been making something every day, whether it's painting, drawing/sketching, making jewelry or writing.

Posting regularly hasn't worked for me and here's why: 

When I started consistently posting my art work, I started to feel like I had to make art that was post-worthy. That it had to be a certain quality or at a certain stage before I could share it. 

THIS is exactly the type of thinking that shuts creativity down and shrivels her up. She does not want to make things for you to comment on or not comment on (she sees that as judgement and judgement=poison.) She wants to be free to make whatever she wants, even if it's ugly. 

If I start trying to make art that's just pleasing, I will get stuck in a trap that usually leads to not making any art at all.

That's what makes feedback hard for artists. That's what makes selling our work hard too. If you say you like something or you buy along certain lines that we make, we tend to get stuck in only making that type of work, because it's what "works well" or what's "successful" or "what sells". That keeps us from branching out, expanding and taking our work in totally different directions (think of actors who get typecast in certain roles-it makes it harder to break out and do something totally different.)

That doesn't mean we don't seek your praise (because we LOVE it) or want you to buy our work (that's why we put it up for sale in the first place.) It's just that creativity can be a fragile thing and we need to recognize when we're falling into patterns that can silence her.

So my plan is to keep on creating daily and then share whatever ends up feeling sharable-that feels much better.

Here are some things that I've been playing around with lately:
 I love how chunky and textural the oil pastels make this.
 This has several layers of paint and pastels.
I've been adding oil pastels over my acrylic paint and I'm loving the vibrant color and creamy texture it adds. I can't imagine why I never got too into this before? It's especially satisfying on my art journal covers. They seem to have a great texture for it.

This past weekend I attended a wine and paint class. This is always a bit strange for me because I teach them, but I always learn something from how the instructor presents that helps me make improvements or gives me new information to share with people interested in teaching wine and paint classes. 

During this class, we had only a few colors to work with, which was a great practice for making do. It made my creative self all squirmy because I wanted purple and magenta and orange! But I had blue and green, black and white. At the end, we got a little yellow. So, with just a few colors to work with, I got busy mixing and blending and creating lighter and darker tones.

I think I will use this as a sample painting for one of my own classes, as it does not look like the teacher's demo. painting and really is my own creation. I actually do have a similar painting that I use in my classes that has a cat sitting on one of the limbs.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Daily Creative Day 9: Reflections

My daily creative practice is not meant to create masterpieces. My intention is to explore, try new techniques and colors. To just do fun, relaxing, no pressure warm-ups to remind myself why I started creating in the first place.

Sometimes I like the results. Sometimes I like a little part of the results. Mostly, I want to let go of liking and not liking and focus on how I feel when I paint.

In today's painting, I wanted to explore using colors I don't usually use. I was mixing Liquitex Soft Body paints together to see what new shades I could uncover.

This is not my normal palette as you will see if you take a quick scroll through my blog. 

What I'm taking away from this practice is the grays, peach and yellows that particularly strike me. I'm going to use these colors in something else. 

I was happily blobbing some of the paint on one side of the page and then smushing the pages together, creating the mirror effect that you can see in spots. I then added some lines and shapes around the spread.

This is my art journal which is my place to experiment and be free. I love that I never know what's going to happen and I just keep following urges I have, like smushing the pages together.

I approach it with the knowing that I cannot mess it up and I don't care what it looks like. This lumpy face makes me happy because I made it with glee and without the judgy voice in my head chanting its song.

Can you let go of what it looks like and just paint for the sake of exploration?  

It may just take your art in a totally new direction.


Monday, January 9, 2017

Daily Creative Day 8: Zentangle

I've been playing around with this creature. I've been using the different sized micron pens to practice making lines and shapes to see what the pens can do.

The lighting on the bottom is quite awful
Here are some close ups with better light.
I wasn't trying to make anything particular, but it came out looking like some sort of twisted creature.

This isn't really a true zentangle, but it had the same effect on me. Drawing repetitive shapes and patterns can lull you into a peaceful state (no wine required although if it's a good Zin I'll make an exception.)

Zentangle is a process I used a lot when I taught kids. We would find large rocks and create zentangles on them with colored sharpies. It's low pressure because it's just repeating a pattern, so it takes away some of the fear of not being good at art.

Taking away the fear, helps adults get back into art making too, so if you've never tried it, just google "How to Zentangle" and you will find lots of resources. These are also used in a lot of coloring books for adults that are out there. 

Some people (like my friend Shirley) create incredibly detailed art using repeating patterns. It can take many, many, many hours to get into that much detail but the results are impressive.

Here's an easy tutorial from Craftwhack to get you started.

You can also find out more on the official Zentangle website.

Here Are Some of the Benefits copied from their website:
  • Relaxation
  • Simple and quick access to mindfulness
  • Non-verbal journalling
  • Insomnia (Improved sleep by creating Zentangle art before bedtime)
  • Self-esteem
  • Inspiration
  • Panic attacks (For fear of flying, creating Zentangle art during takeoff and landing)
  • Modify behavior
  • Being part of a supportive and fun community
  • Create beautiful works of art
  • Nurture and develop creative abilities
  • Relieve stress
  • Improve eye/hand coordination
  • Develop/rehabilitate fine motor skills
  • Team building and group focus
  • Therapy
  • Anger management
  • Addiction therapy tool
  • Diet aide
  • Early artist development and appreciation
  • Increase attention span and ability to concentrate
  • Home schooling
  • Brainstorming
  • Problem Solving
  • Design inspiration
  • Stretching and warm-up for artists
So you can use this as a 15 minute warm-up, to help get on an airplane, when someone cuts you off in traffic or when you feel the need to eat every cookie in the house. That's a pretty versatile tool to keep in your back pocket!

Happy tangling and feel free to share if you've tried this, like it, hate it or lost 30 pounds using it.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Daily Creative: Collaborative Painting

Creating daily is one challenge, getting my creations posted is another. 

This is a collaborative canvas that I started many moons ago with my friend Shannon Crandall. We worked on it together during a mini-painting retreat that we held in Baldwinsville, NY and I was charged with finishing it. I have not yet finished it.

I've painted over this many times but the spirit of Shannon are still underneath the layers. The upside down tree in the top left is hers.

Here is a closer view of it:

There is still a blue space at the bottom of the canvas that is waiting for something to arise. It has been a bird and a branch and one day it will become something else entirely. I may just give it back to Shannon to work her magic on.

Working with someone on a painting is a different kind of challenge. The first time I tried this was in Sedona, during my teacher training, where I painted with Kim aka: The Dutchess of Orange.  

At first I was really nervous because I was not confident in my painting skills, but she quickly put me at ease by painting in all kinds of creatures that I could paint around. I think I may have even worked up the courage to add a creature of my own. 

Working together with someone on a painting is a very personal and communal thing. It's a way of connecting that doesn't typically happen in the normal course of a day.

For me collaborative painting is kind of like a call and response. Shannon added something, I added something in response. (Mostly I tried not to wreck what she had added, but in the end, I painted over almost all of it, except her tree.)

I often ask students in my classes to add something to someone elses painting. It gets covered up, but it's a little hidden memory layered in. It makes them nervous at first, but then they start to really get into it.

Hope you are out there making delightful things and if you get stuck, maybe invite someone to come and co-create with you? You never know what might happen.

~Happy Creating!~  

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Daily Creative Day 5: Acrylic + Watercolor

It doesn't have to be hard. You don't have to drag out all the paints and the easel and the cups of water.

You just need a little basket of art making goodies to keep by the couch. Some watercolors, pens and a travel brush.

I take my little basket from the couch, to the dining room, to the kitchen, to the art studio. Then I can quickly throw a few items in a travel bag if I'm on the road too.

Going to my studio takes me away from my family and the warm and toasty fire. I like to be around people when they're home, so I have found that this works for me.

Keeping everything convenient helps get rid of any excuses I've obviously been brewing up of why I haven't been painting.

I'm excited to see how this regular practice will transform my artwork. 

These flowers were just purple flowers in acrylic paint, a little test I had done to practice the style in my journal. I added watercolors, Caran D'ache watercolor crayons and my Pitt pen. I did the outlining last with the pen last and I like the effect.

Keep it close, keep it easy, keep it simple and watch what unfolds.

What's keeping you from making art?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Daily Creative Day 4: Pen and Ink Sketches

Day 4! I've found that it is taking me longer to post these photos than it does for my creative practice, so I'm really developing two habits for the price of one. 

One is creating for 15 minutes a day, the other is blogging daily. I've never written so many posts in such a short period of time.

Today I wanted to share my pen and ink line drawings. These are my versions of the plants in my front window.

It has been hard to take photos in the natural light because it has been so gray here in Central NY, so sorry about the wonky lighting.

 Just used my Micron Pens to do quick sketches of my plants.

You can't get too attached to pen and ink because there is no going back, no erasing. Once it's on there, it's staying put. You just have to go with it.

I liked making the little upside down hearts on this Burrow's Tail. 
Not erasing anything makes the practice go much quicker. There is no second guessing, no decisions to make really. You just keep moving forward.

I don't consider myself to be good at drawing but I actually had fun doing these little sketches. 

Usually I don't sketch things I see, I just doodle whatever comes up. I don't like to be precise or realistic.
As you can see, these are not precise or very realistic but they are my version, so they don't have to be. 

Now I'm trying to decide if I want to paint them with the watercolors or move on to something different?

For now it's off to make some jewelry for a customer, so happy creating! 

ps: Have you started a daily practice? I would love to hear about it! Feel free to post about it in the comments below.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Daily Creative Day 3: Flower Doodles

Flowers are my favorite things to doodle. I love experimenting with the composition and colors.

These are so easy to do sitting by the fire with my art journal and my portable watercolor brush.

I tried to stay very loose making these. I haven't really gotten the hang of layering the watercolors yet or smoothing them out so they aren't blotchy, but I will with more practice.

Have you made a little time for your creativity today? 
It doesn't have to be a big production. You don't have to set up your easel and pull out all the paints. It can be a simple journal and a tiny pan of paints. 

Make it easy+channel your inner 5 year old and you'll be on your way.
(Check out Day 1 and Day 2 for more ideas of easy activities to do in 15 minutes or less!)