Saturday, October 31, 2020

Cleaning and Storing Stencils: A Better Way

They're great for making art, but storing and cleaning stencils can be a pain. If you're like me, your stencil collection is (1) very large, (2) consists of stencils in a wide range of sizes and (3) encrusted with multiple layers of dried paint. 

I'm referring here to plastic stencils, although some of what I'm going to share with you can be applied to metal and paper stencils too:

Tip #1:Keep 'em clean. In the past I was so guilty of not doing this. I'd allow layer upon layer of acrylic paint to build up on my stencils until their image quality began to suffer. When that happened, I'd gird my loins, fortify myself with a glass of wine, and conduct a marathon stencil cleaning operation that sometimes lasted a couple of days. I dreaded these sessions (but the wine helped!)

After one especially grueling cleaning session I finally wised up. I began rinsing off my stencils immediately after each use. Under running water the paint slides off the stencils effortlessly. If you don't have running water in your studio, just fill a waterproof pan or bucket with warm water, and add a bit of Murphy Oil Soap or mild detergent.Toss the stencils in as you use them, allowing each to soak 30 minutes or longer. Remove them when the paint slips off easily. Rinse off any remaining cleaner and paint, then press each stencil between layers of paper towel to dry it. Now you're ready to store them. (See #2) 

Tip #2: Store 'em flat. For years I kept most of my midsize-to-small stencils in a cabinet drawer. I'd toss them in on top of one another willy nilly. When it came time to locate a particular stencil, I had to remove a big plastic mess from the drawer and spend a lot of time cautiously teasing each piece out from it. This wasted a lot of time. And it also risked tearing more fragile or detailed stencils.

When I stumbled upon a stack of old, used manila file folders waiting to be sent to the recycling bin, it seemed like a good idea to put them to better use than ending up in a shredder.

 Most of my stencils nowadays are fairly small,  (roughly 6x8 or 6x6), highly detailed and made of very thin plastic. They're quite finely detailed and therefore delicate. 

I found that cutting the old letter size file folders in half vertically created a nice little "home" for each of these smaller stencils. To make locating a particular design easier I used a single color of paint to stencil each design to the outside of its respective folder.

Storing the folders is a cinch. You can pop them into a zip top bag, stash them in a file cabinet, or simply store them in a decorative box, basket or bin in your studio. Your stencils will last longer in their protective folders and you'll find using them to be so much easier and more convenient.

  Shown above: MB Makes Marks Marker Stencil, by Mary Beth Shaw and available from StencilGirl Products, 

Stencil design ©2020 StencilGirl Products 

Text and photo © 2020 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, September 6, 2020

10 Reasons Why It Rocks to Be An Artist

1. No one expects your house to be clean.

2. You can wear outlandish clothing.

3. You can wear ratty clothing.

4. You're not expected to know what a price-to-book ratio is.

5. You can devise solutions to problems most people have never thought about.

6. Your powers of observation are exceptional.

7. People are fascinated by the most mundane things you do or create.

8. Any social gaffes you make are seen merely as eccentricities.

9. Your choice of colors is rarely challenged.

10.You get to think outside the box and play with fun stuff everybody else left back in grade school.

What's not to love about being an artist?


©2020 Lynn Edwards

Saturday, August 8, 2020

A Marketing Must-Have for Artists

Have you ever encountered something so helpful that you want to share it with fellow artists everywhere? That's how I feel about the ebook, How to Find a Goldmine of Customers: Defining a Target Marget for Your Handmade Business. Not only is it incredibly informative, it actually makes one of the most challenging tasks we face fun. Priced at just $5.99 it's one heck of a bargain. Its contents are priceless.

Most of us who sell our work can usually provide a basic profile of the people we tend to do business with...their gender, age range and approximate income level. Maybe we even know a bit more about them, such as their marital status, or the types of jobs they have and so forth. Such facts, however, though a good start, are not enough to build an effective marketing plan around.

This ebook by Erin Mooney reveals how to construct an imaginary person -- a target customer prototype -- that we'll come to know almost as well as we know ourselves. Once we "create" him or her, and learn all there is to know about them, our marketing and advertising dollars can be focused exclusively on our target market's desires and needs.This will have the greatest impact on our sales, while resulting in a favorable return on our investment.

Finding this information is easier than you think and costs nothing to acquire but an investment of our time.

Author Erin Mooney reveals how to use the web sites of publications that reflect our typical customers' lifestyles, values and ferret out everything we need to know about them. Building on a foundation of research gathered by others, combined with visual examples of their lifestyles, enables us to develop a target customer profile that's exquisitely nuanced. We can direct our message with laser like accuracy to those who most need and desire our products.

Erin Mooney clearly knows her stuff. Her blog, Handmade Urban, offers a wealth of information to creatives on virtually every aspect of running a successful business. She's also the author of several other ebooks in addition to this one. I can assure you, dear reader, that the process she outlines definitely works. After devouring its contents I now have a much clearer picture of who my target customer is and what I need to do to connect with her. I'm still working on creating the prototype, but it's an ongoing project I'm thoroughly enjoying.

If the thought of defining your target market intimidates you, or you squirm with guilt at the very mention of it because you've neglected it altogether, this $5.99 book is for you. It truly lives up to it's title -- it's truly a goldmine!

Full Disclosure: I'm so enthused about Erin's ebook I've decided to promote it here on my blog. Any sales that result by clicking on this link will generate a bit of revenue, which I will, in turn, donate to a cause very dear to my heart: local pet rescue organizations. To learn more about this ebook or to purchase it, click here. Thank you!

Text ©2020 Lynn Edwards       Image ©2020 Made Urban

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Life and Art Making in Quarantine

At first I was thrilled at having to stay home. My idea of heaven was having all the time I wanted to work in my studio. And it was glorious, as well as highly productive...between March and June I created over 100 pairs of earrings, made several dozen small collages and completed a 30x40 abstract. (Which explains why I wasn't keeping up my blog.)
Watched blooms unfurl but there were fewer of them this year.

However, by early July, the bloom was definitely off the lily. It really started to irk me that I couldn't go shopping for needed supplies. Or enjoy dinner out at a restaurant. Or attend a concert, go to a movie, or even check a book out of the library.  Nor could I consult my doctor in a face to face appointment. Noooo...he and I had a "telehealth" type appointment during which he sounded like he was speaking from the bottom of a lake, and I couldn't understand 90 percent of what he was saying. God help us if that's the future of medicine.

So having all the time in the world to do something you enjoy so much, while under the severe constraints of mandatory directives imposed by local, county and state authorities, takes the fun out of things. In short, confinement is the pits.

What does all this mean for the future? Maybe a better question would be "Do we HAVE a future?"
The answer to this question can't come from others.You've got to look deep into your own life to discover the answer. Maybe make some art while you're pondering this question. It helps to clarify your thoughts. So let your creativity run loose. Take off its leash.We may be on the verge of a permanent change in our lifestyle, for good or for ill. Making art will help you stay sane in a world that's gone crazy.

Text and image ©2020 Lynn Edwards

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

New Pendants!!

©2020 Lynn Edwards
Those of you who know me are aware that I love making jewelry besides painting.  For several months I've been creating and selling mosaic pendants and other jewelry items through the Art House Gallery in Acworth, Georgia. While I was busy working on those little beauties, I began to wonder how I might also create pendants from bits of my painted papers, considering that I have hundreds of such papers on hand in my studio.

Now, it's well known that pendants can be made by affixing a clear glass cabochon over artwork that's glued into a pendant tray or bezel. The effect is lovely but it's awfully hard to get rid of little bubbles that form in the adhesive just under the glass. They can be maddening to deal with. Those pesky bubbles can ruin the appearance of the piece and drive you crazy.
©2020 Lynn Edwards

 So I put on my thinking cap hoping to find a way around this problem. After much experimentation I came up with a method that eliminates the need for a glass cabochon, reducing the weight of the pendant in the process. It also solves the bubble issues -- yippee!!!

After playing around with this idea and making a few tweaks, I created eight prototype pendants. Shown here are a couple of them.
The artwork is permanently sealed under multiple layers of a bubble free layer of a resin-like coating. The result is like looking down into a clear pool of water. The colors are so vibrant they almost take on a life of their own. Minus a heavy glass cabochon these pendants remain lightweight and comfortable to wear. They'll soon be available through the Art House, and through my Etsy shop, as soon as I complete the redesign of the shop, which is currently in vacation mode. If you'd like to be notified when these pendants and others like them are available for purchase let me know and I'll send you a notification by email.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Thank you, President Trump!

Newsflash: The historic new trade deal with China that President Trump negotiated and announced yesterday contains a long-sought benefit for artists, writers, musicians and all creative types. For years China has been helping itself to our intellectual property, using it without permission and not paying a dime in compensation to its creators. This has long been a thorn in the side of not only the creative community but also American corporate interests, who have seen their proprietary information illicitly "appropriated" and then used against them on the competitive playing field.

Somehow the President persuaded China to stop this harmful, unneighborly practice, writing their agreement to do so into the wording of the new trade deal. President Trump is to be commended for accomplishing what none of his predecessors would or could do: taking action to keep Americans' intellectual property safe. It remains to be seen whether China will steadfastly abide by its promise;
The hope is that they will, conducting themselves with honor going forward.

©Lynn Edwards

Friday, January 3, 2020

Save the Date!!

The winter blahs are upon us. The holidays are gone, and spring seems months away. For many folks with an itch to create, it's the perfect time to explore new means of self expression. For me, it's the perfect time to share with others my favorite "secret" mixed media techniques by teaching a workshop!

So come explore a whole new world of artistic possibilities: join me on March 14 at The Art House in Acworth for "Surface Design for Artists, Card Makers and Scrap Book Enthusiasts," a one day workshop in designing and creating your own original art papers, non-paper surfaces and dimensional embellishments!

Just a few of them are shown here:

Radiant Sun, mixed media collage made with clay, inks, tissue, copier papers, sewing supplies and acrylic paints      
   © Lynn Edwards

In this workshop you'll discover how to turn readily available items such as copy paper, aluminum foil, fabric scraps, "found" treasures and other materials into stunning one-of-a-kind elements you can use in mixed media/collage, scrap booking, card making and just about any other artistic/creative endeavor you can think of.

               Greeting card made from 6 different paper treatments                 
 ©Lynn Edwards

You'll paint, crumple, pour, scrape, shape, dunk, glue, carve and layer art supplies and common household materials, transforming them into spectacular elements that are uniquely YOU!

Jewelry makers can use many of the techniques taught in this workshop.  ©Lynn Edwards

 At the end of the workshop you'll have a collection of art papers and alternative surfaces of your very own design, a step by step handbook of techniques learned in the class, and finished pieces you can display in your home or give as gifts.

All you need to bring is a sack lunch...I'll supply everything else. So register NOW; participation is limited to just 10 students. (This allows me to offer plenty of one on one time with each person.)

BTW, you do NOT need to be an experienced artist. You'll have a blast even if you've never done anything "artsy" in your life. Can't draw a straight line?? No need to. If you want straight lines I'll hand you a ruler, lol!

Here's all the info:

Workshop Title:

Fee: $90   All supplies will be furnished; all you need to bring is a sack lunch

Date: Saturday, March 14, 2020

Time: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Location: The Art House, 4425 Cherokee St., Acworth GA 30101

or call 678-543-5777 to register by phone. Checks, cash and debit/credit cards are accepted.

All text and images ©2020 Lynn Edwards