The crafted object : Britta Boeckmann {resin & wood jewellery}

Britta Boeckmann moved to Australia for love. When she got here, she fell in love all over again with its beautiful wood.

britta boeckmann - pink resin pendant with wood

britta boeckmann – pink resin pendant with wood

Combining Australian native timbers with translucent resins and semi-precious stones, her jewellery looks a bit architectural with its bold, simple shapes. I love how the clean forms let the rich colours and natural textures shine through; sometimes she adds in bits of twig, flowers or gold leaf to make lots of intriguing details. Britta loves the landscape of Australia too, but is also especially inspired by the organic and modernist furniture of Nipa Doshi & Jonathan Levien (it’s on my wish list as well!).

 

britta boeckmann - pendants in teal blue resin wood

britta boeckmann – pendants in teal blue resin wood

 

britta boeckmann -pendant with sheoak pod in resin

britta boeckmann -pendant with sheoak pod in resin

She studied Industrial Design in her home country of Germany and there discovered her  passion for wood. After moving to London, she had a stint designing jewellery for a brand in Oxford which ignited a desire for further study. “I finished my studies in September 2013 and moved to Australia with my partner. I started working in a woodworking group in Wangaratta straight away, happy to find a place to explore my ideas. The lovely members there always supply me with stunning pieces of wood to work with and that’s a credit to them.” She loves working there: “They always tell me interesting stories about the history of each piece I get.”

Her time is currently split between three work areas. “Most of the work is in the Wangaratta Woodworkers workshop which has a great setup with all the tools you could image. I also have a table with tools in a garage, where I make the moulds and cast the pieces, and then I finish off my pieces on a desk in front of a big window. This is where I glue hooks on, attach the chains or cords and oil the pieces. The last two are a total mess most of the time.”

 

britta boeckmann - wide green pendant with redgum

britta boeckmann – wide green pendant with redgum

 

All her work for the Oxford brand was built on CAD and sent out for manufacture, and that is very different to how she works now – completely handmade, mess and all.  “There are several steps involved in the process of making these pieces. I colour resin with oil based colours and then pour it into moulds which I make from clay. Then I embed flowers, branches, gold leaf or mostly wood in the resin. A couple of days later I take the cured block out of the mould and I sculpt the shape on the belt sander. After the piece gets its final shape I sand it with different grits by hand to get rid of the scratches. Finally I oil or varnish the pieces and sometimes add additional elements like metal tubes or gemstones.”

 

britta boeckmann - ring - wood with light blue resin

britta boeckmann – ring – wood with light blue resin

 

britta boeckmann - ring wood resin gold flake

britta boeckmann – ring wood resin gold flake

 

Like many jewellers I know, Britta says she never wears much jewellery (although she admits she has one special piece that she has kept for herself).  “I love jewellery, but I am just doing so much physical work that it would disturb me wearing it.”

 

wangaratta workshop

wangaratta woodworkers workshop

 

 

Her best best of advice comes from her partner, who told her “Not to take life so serious, to do what I love to do and not to think about money all the time.”

 

You can find more of Britta’s jewellery in her Etsy shop, BoldB.

Small biz how-to : Monday Mini Makeovers {part 2}

profound transformation underway

 

Welcome to Part 2 of Monday Mini Makeovers! This is where I showcase some websites of creative micro-businesses just like yours, and give them the once-over.

For each biz I feature, I will give my honest opinion about my initial impressions of their site, with the idea that not only do these good folk benefit from having a fresh set of eyes over their online presence, but that everyone who reads this can also get tips on how to charge up their own online presence.  {And if you’d like to get involved yourself, you can! Just subscribe, and follow the instructions here.}

Let’s meet today’s batch of creatives.

 

Tasha Chawner of tashachawner.com

TashaChawner.com

TashaChawner.com

I met Tasha online a few years back and have got to know her a bit over that time; not only that, but she’s also been a sponsor of this blog for the last few months, which has been great and it has meant that I’ve got to know her even better!

So firstly, I know she’s been planning to give her website tashchawner.com, a whole new makeover for some time. And it seems like she’s already on her way to bigger things! The new layout (above) looks much fresher, brighter and more colourful than the previous one. On the plus side I think it looks nice and clean, and the social media icons on top show that she’s easy to connect with elsewhere. However I would say that the header image still doesn’t convey what the blog’s about. I KNOW Tasha has some absolutely gorgeous photos, and I think she should incorporate one of them into the header to give it more personality.

There’s a whole lot more to this blog than what is suggested by the menu.  I would add a few more menu items, so people can find the various segments she has on her blog; for instance the wonderful “53 pieces of unsolicited advice”, as well as her own photography – and there are several other things she has listed in “what I write about” on her sidebar that could be included. As a wonderful web designer told me once, the ideal number of main items to have on a menu is around 6-8, and the rest of the items can be included in drop-down menus.

“Testimonials” and “Journey Into Jewellery” should be corrected for spelling. Some people might think I’m a bit nit-picky about spelling, but I utterly believe that it’s important that you present your best self. Please check the spelling on all items on your site – people may forgive a typo in a blog post, but are much less happy to do so on main pages, menu items, and sidebar items.

Newsletters are a great way of keeping in touch with your potential customer base about new things you’ve made or done, and these can generate some good sales for you.

If Tasha would like to build up her mailing list (does she use it for a newsletter? Or just for delivering blogposts?), she could include her free blog planner as an incentive for signup.

If you would like to set up your own mailing list, there are several platforms you can use (like Mailchimp or AWeber). It’s important that you have a proper opt-in setup for collecting email addresses – don’t just put them on yourself (like someone I saw recently!) – it’s just plain old rude, and besides that you may be in serious breach of privacy and antispam regulations.

When I’m searching around a site, I like the search bar to be obvious, so I think this should be moved to near the top of the sidebar. I DO like that she has the “Pin It” rollover button on her images – something I need to get onto myself!

On Tasha’s “About” page, I think she should start with explaining what a “conservative hippy” is because it’s her tagline and therefore important (and intriguing!). It’s fun going through what it does and does not mean to her; and she can follow on with all the other important stuff about who and what she is.

 

Deborah Thomas of  Doe Leather

Doe Leather

Doe Leather

Overall, this is a well put together website; it looks good and is easy to navigate. Doe Leather‘s history is such a great story! Briefly, Doe Leather was started by Deborah’s great-great-grandfather, and grew to be one of the most important leather manufacturers in England. Sadly, it was undone by cheap imports in the 1990s and closed in 2002. Now, Deborah is setting about transforming and building a new business out of that heritage.

I love all the old photos of the original factory in its heyday. However, I think it’s important that Deborah includes her own bio in the “About” section, not just as a small link at the bottom of the history page – the site is about the NEW business more so than just its history (which is fascinating). I would also enjoy knowing a bit more about the current setup, for instance, when did Deborah start the new business; is it just a solo operation or does she work with a team, etc.

I would also enjoy knowing more about the process, especially about the process of printing textures onto leather – is that still done, or are only pieces from the archive used? Understanding more about the process of hand crafting leather adds to the story behind each piece and therefore adds value to the product.

 

Ruthie Gray of The Silver Forge

The Silver Forge

The Silver Forge

Ruthie Gray from The Silver Forge is a jeweller specialising in custom orders with unusual gemstones, such as beautiful drusy agates and jaspers.

The space on your landing page is precious! It’s the first glimpse of you that your customers get, so use it wisely.

For this reason, don’t double or triple up on the information in your headers. On Ruthie’s site, I would drop the written header at the very top, and perhaps include the information “Sterling silver jewellery hand crafted by Ruthie Gray” in the banner image.

I would also recommend moving the social media icons to the top of the sidebar, it lets folk know you’re easy to connect with. I would then probably rearrange those icons, by grouping all the popular social media together – Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram; then group all the shop icons together, etc. Try to be logical in the order of them, it feels neater. And PLEASE make sure all your links are up to date! I couldn’t find Ruthie’s Tumblr at all.

Next down the sidebar I would have “About me”, with a smaller photo. Importantly, it needs to be linked to your own “About me” page on your website – don’t send your potential customers offsite to a third party.

Utilise the full width of your sidebar especially in regard to images; either make your sidebar width smaller, or your images larger. Keep your image sizes at a consistent width.

Ruthie’s photos are generally good – clear, with consistent light, backgrounds and minimal props.  I LOVE the responsiveness of Ruthie’s site and images – the resize and rearrange is excellent. These days, if you have your own site, it is imperative that you choose a platform that is responsive, that is, able to be viewed easily on many different sized devices from mobile to tablet to desktop. To ignore this aspect is to cut your audience substantially; most people don’t have the patience to scroll from side to side on a small screen.

An integral part of her business is bespoke orders using gemstones from her large collection, and I think she needs to make more of this on her front page. One way this could be achieved is to include a slide show of say 3-5 images under the main banner; these could include text with more information and more examples of work.

Lastly, I only discovered that Ruthie has a monthly giveaway for subscribers when I was reading through her blog! Having a giveaway each month is an excellent incentive to get people to subscribe to your mailing list, but you have to let them know. It’s very, very easy to do this by saying exactly that in the signup form on your sidebar.

fabric dot

Now it’s over to you again!

How did YOU go with all of that?

Can you think how the suggestions I’ve made today could be applied to your biz? What would you change? What would you keep the same? Have I still not solved your problem for your biz? If you’ve got a specific question let me know in the comments below.

AND, if you would like a Mini Monday Makeover on your biz, you can join in too – all you have to do is subscribe here, and follow the instructions.

See you then!
Julie X

The crafted object : Moshikoart {jewellery}

I was a bit stumped for words when I first spotted the silver and resin jewellery of Moshiko Boshe (aka MoshikoArt). “Bright” and “colourful” didn’t quite do it justice.

 

moshiko - bunny necklace

moshiko – bunny necklace

 

Based in Tel Aviv, Moshiko’s work is kind of a wild hybrid between organic and hi-tech, ancient and futuristic. He sits archaic symbols from long-forgotten cultures alongside modern interpretations of Henri Matisse and Keith Haring, and includes references to jellyfish, strawberries and the X-files equally, without batting an eyelid.

 

moshiko - matisse ring

moshiko – matisse ring

 

moshiko - celestial lagoon bracelet

moshiko – celestial lagoon bracelet

He first came to work with metals about 25 years ago, after a visit to Nepal. There he was fortunate enough to visit the workshop of the royal jewellers and was captivated, watching them heating and fusing metal just with lung power and a simple oil burner. He returned to Israel, teaching himself the skills before ending up working in high-end jewellery workshops as in-house designer and prototype maker for several years. During this time he also studied glass blowing with master glass blower Rika, and trained in traditional North African jewellery crafting.

 

moshiko - raindrops earrings

moshiko – raindrops earrings

 

moshiko - omega bracelet

moshiko – omega bracelet

 

He loves working with resin too, relishing its organic and fluid possibilities. He says of the process, “Working with resin is like riding a dragon.” Using a variety of techniques to suit each piece, some surfaces are handpainted, others are embedded with photographs or gold leaf.

 

moshiko - talking heads ring

moshiko – talking heads ring

 

moshiko - spherical maze ring

moshiko – spherical maze ring

 

Moshiko has participated in numerous exhibitions, his work has appeared in several publications by Lark Books., and he runs his own gallery featuring jewellery and sculpture in Tel Aviv.

You can find more of his work in his Etsy shop MoshikoArt, and on his own website www.moshikoart.com.

 

The crafted object : MarDeColorRosa {jewellery}

A long time ago, Montserrat Lacomba visited an island called Formantera, where she saw a pink sea. She called it “MarDeColorRosa”.

 

montserrat lacomba - big fish red - silver copper enamel

montserrat lacomba – big fish red – silver, copper, enamel

 

Now, she shares her time between her home and workshop in Girona, Spain, and the island, surrounded by her beloved Mediterranean.

Landscape is the inspiration for much of her work, and she is also intrigued by the way different cultures and artistic disciplines have interpreted it. “Nature and ancient constructions, as well as the writing of ancient civilizations are starting points that open paths I like to follow, even though I never know exactly where they will take me.”

“I try to transmit in a jewel the emotion that a mountain gives me, or a river or poem that speaks about the beauty of a particular place. I love the landscapes around me which always surprise with new colors and new shapes. Often they are my inspiration, inviting me to create.”

 

montserrat lacomba - mediterranean - brooch - nickel silver enamelled and oxidised copper

montserrat lacomba – mediterranean – brooch – nickel silver enamelled and oxidised copper

 

montserrat lacomba - impossible earrings no3 - copper enamel silver

montserrat lacomba – impossible earrings no3 – copper enamel silver

 

Her studio is well-equipped and meticulously organised. So it is perhaps a surprise to see the forms and colours of her jewellery – at first glance they may appear raw and irregular, but on closer inspection they become something much more intriguing. It is those myriad subtle variations in landscape and the natural environment that swell and mix and diffuse that I see, and put me in mind of something greater than what is there on the bench.

 

montserrat lacomba - a forest for m - brooch - enamelled and oxidised copper

montserrat lacomba – a forest for m – brooch – enamelled and oxidised copper

 

She admits she sometimes feels closer to painters such as Matisse, Picasso, Miró and Tàpies than jewellers or any other discipline. “This question is very difficult for me because I admire many people and I think I have the influence of many artists too. However, I think that Silvia Walz is the jeweler with I have had a closer relationship and admire, both as a person and their work. I also really like jeweler Myung Urso, because with simple materials and forms she can convey deep feelings.”

Sometimes, Montserrat likes to explore her ideas with words first, before testing out different materials, experimenting and making many samples and sketches. “I don’t make so many drawings, I only draw first ideas and I also draw at the end, when I need to think how to resolve technical problems to reach the best solution for the piece. The most I like is working with materials in my hands and investigating different techniques. For hard things to go effortlessly, you need a lot of patience, be disciplined, to be objectively critical of your work, and to not put a limit on your time.”

 

montserrat lacomba - green circle earrings - silver copper enamel

montserrat lacomba – green circle earrings – silver copper enamel

 

montserrat lacomba - impossible earrings no1 red - copper enamel silver

montserrat lacomba – impossible earrings no1 red – copper enamel silver

 

She first studied as a painter with a Fine Arts degree from the University of Barcelona. Since then she has worked in various other disciplines as well, such as engraving, graphic design and illustration, but also taught in secondary school as a drawing teacher for 28 years. Then, ” 2000 was a very important year for me. I decided to change my life – I stopped painting and started to make jewels. In 2003 I discovered contemporary jewelry in a workshop with jeweller Silvia Walz and it fascinated me! So I’ve been working on it since then, I can’t imagine my life in any other way.”

 

montserrat lacomba - catalonia - brooch - enamelled and oxidised copper, silver

montserrat lacomba – catalonia – brooch – enamelled and oxidised copper, silver

 

Contemporary jewellery so captivated Montserrat that in 2008 she started the wonderful blog, mardecolorrosa.com (I love this blog! And it’s how I first discovered Montserrat a few years back). Mardecolorrosa or “pink sea” started in 2008 with a poem by Pablo Neruda dedicated to the sea. Published in Catalan (her native language) and English, it features artists from around the globe, many of whom push the boundaries of what is jewellery, and it also reviews many of the contemporary jewellery shows across Europe.

The blog is an important part of her life, and she loves it for the connections she has been able to make with other makers and designers around the world.  However, balancing her studio time with the blog is not an easy task. “Though I’m a passionate and organized person, I still feel like I’m working 24 hours a day and I try to arrange my time. The work I do as a communicator is very important to me but of course what I like most  is working at my bench in silence, creating my jewelry and I always feel that I should spend more time there.  Many years ago I made some changes in my life that allow me to dedicate all my time to jewelry. That was a really difficult but, in the end, a very good decision and now all my life is full of my work which revolves entirely around contemporary jewelry.”

This fits perfectly with her best advice and personal philosophy; “To be myself” – to stay with what you love the most.

 

montserrat lacomba - studio

montserrat lacomba – studio

 

montserrat lacomba - workbench

montserrat lacomba – workbench

 

montserrat lacomba - sketchbooks

montserrat lacomba – sketchbooks

 

Just for fun, I asked Montserrat what she would do if I gave her a cardboard box, a marker and a sharp knife. “I would put the knife inside the box and with the marker pen I would write in the box: knifes. Inside the box I would collect all knifes I find.” Safe, and orderly ;).

You can find more of Montserrat’s work on her own website, montserratlacomba.com and in her Etsy shop, mardecolorrosa.etsy.com. I would also urge you to check out her blog, mardecolorrosa.com.

 

Meet the sponsors : March

“Hello March! You’ve come a bit early, but that’s OK – OH! you’re more than halfway through already…”
Haha! Time just goes too fast and I think it’s getting worse as I get older.

 

Welcome to my lovely March sponsors!!

You all KNOW I love a bit of vintage fabric goodness. Jennifer from A Piece Of Cloth has a wonderful collection, and it’s been substantially expanded by a recent trip to the US on a fabric-buying mission. You can find some glorious fabric goodness on her Facebook page, facebook.com/apieceofcloth.

a piece of cloth - vintage fabric

a piece of cloth – vintage fabric

 

You all should know the lovely Libby from Crimson Pear now – she helped me update my website, getting all the behind-the-scenes bits and bobs working properly like they should! She’s a bit of a tech-whiz, able to help you with a simple tweak on your site, to helping you set up a whole new site. She’s good to help you on the graphics side of things too – a new logo, or a total re-brand if you like as well! You can find her at CrimsonPear.com.au.

crimson pear - blog design

crimson pear – blog design

 

 

Tasha Chawner writes about family life, photography, and whatever else grabs her attention. I really like her series called “53 pieces of unsolicited advice” – sometimes wry, sometmes pithy, sometimes downright fun! She’s also got a great photo project going called “the weekend photo project”; it’s a bit more casual for all of us who can’t manage one of those “photo-a-day” challenges – you might like to join in! You can check the blog out at www.tashachawner.com.

tasha chawner - photography through newly discovered app 'waterlogue'

tasha chawner – photography through newly discovered app ‘waterlogue’

 

 

Katie Alleva is a printmaker and artist who has recently ventured into the realms of laser-cutting to produce clocks, pendants and brooches based on her original artworks. She also runs workshops on screenprinting and clockmaking if you happen to live in the Byron Bay area. You can find Katie on her website, katiealleva.com.au

katie alleva - sunflower cherrywood brooch

katie alleva – sunflower cherrywood brooch

 

Irina is an illustrator and surface designer influenced by her Russian heritage. Her most recent venture is a range of colourful and sweet prints for your walls, which you can find in her Etsy shop, Chulart.

chulart - first snow

chulart – first snow

 

Welcome to brand new sponsor Erin Ibbertson of Licorice Fox –  she illustrates and makes sweet vector clip-art for you to use embellishing your own cards, websites and whatever else you choose! You can find her sweet birds and flowers in her Etsy shop, LicoriceFox.

licorice fox - peach flora clip art

licorice fox – peach flora clip art

 

Welcome to another fresh new sponsor, Kathryn, from Miss Black & Friends. Kathryn, who you may know from Dallape Chant, has launched a range of sweet softies and wall art for your home. You can find swans, garlands, felt and polka dots in her shop, www.missblackandfriends.com.au.

miss black & friends - sibella swan

miss black & friends – sibella swan

 

 

THANK YOU! I am so very grateful to these people for continuing to support tractorgirl in the ways that they do. It would be great if you showed them support too. Go on, pass the love around.

 

Cheers, Julie  🙂