Monday, June 10, 2013

Artist Card Giveaway!

I'm giving away and Edgar Allen Poe artist card called "Tell Tale Heart" this week on the RNEST blog.  You can enter to win it here.

I have made several editions of this design.  It always seems to be popular. There are so many Poe fans out there!  I always use the hearts suit of the poker cards to give that extra "love."

If you don't win and you really want one, you can pick one up from my etsy shop.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Guitar Effect Pedals and Rubber Stamps?

OK, I'll admit, I am not a musician.  I quit trombone in the sixth grade.  So when Terry T. at Push + Pull Pedals contacted me about getting a stamp of the Sputnik space probe I didn't know what he was doing with it.  Afterwards I saw a picture of it on his facebook, and BLAM! there is was.  With kickass LEDs and everything.

So I began to appreciate what it looked like (and man did it look sharp), but what did it do?  So if you are like me and don't know jack about guitars, you would google guitar effect pedals to find out that they are electronic devices that modify the tone, pitch, or sound of an electric guitar. If you want to hear what they do, here is a video of one of Terry's pedals in action, as posted by Youtube user Brett Kingman.

OK, so they look sharp and SOUND awesome!

I was very happy that Terry wanted a lucha mask stamp done for him. I dig wrestling, and have done some lucha masks for other custom orders in the past. He shot me a design and the dimensions and again was stoked to see it with LED eyes! He also picked up a fortune teller looking stamp from my etsy shop and put that on his Mindbender pedal. HA! Love it. You can check in what he has in stock at his etsy shop or check out his Facebook page for new pedals he is making by hand.

So that was rad, but what happened next kind of shocked me. A LOT of people follow Terry at Push + Pull Pedals, and I started getting some really nice feedback on the stamps. Before I know it, other people who like Terry are masters at the craft of handmade effect pedal production, are contacting me about getting stamps for their handmade pedals.

Enter Jason at Pedal Monsters.  He ordered three stamps from me with some really challenging designs.  Some images work better for stamps than others, and while those three stamps came out 
OK, I think the finest of the three was the Bruce Lee stamp.  Jason says Lee was a childhood hero of his.  He put Bruce Lee's likeness on one of his Klone pedals as you can see in the picture. 

After that order Jason needed a stamp of his company's name and logo.  He was stamping it on some bags he was using to protect the pedals in.  A very nice compliment to a fine piece of metal and circuitry.  And just this past week I finished up a couple of other little logos that I think we will be seeing on some of his future pedals.   You can check out his work or buy some hardware at his website.

Needless to say, the folks out there that are in the market for effect pedals have some incredible technicians AND artists to shop from.  What a cool way to enjoy your craft of music.  I am really honored to have my stamps on this artform.  Terry and Jason have been great to work with, so if you play electronic guitar, or know someone who does, consider watching what these guys are doing, because it doesn't get more personal than this.

So what's next?  Well, keep your eyes open.  You could see more stamps on these pedals in the near future.  Oh, was that a teaser?  Yes, stay tuned to my facebook page to see what comes out next, I'm talking to a few other pedal producers too! 

Photos by: John Ballou, Terry T., and Jason Chong

Monday, May 6, 2013

Jackbear Makes History

Last week I had two really exciting stamp projects come to finality.

First I delivered an order of five hand hand carved stamps, ten buttons, and ten magnets (all adorned with a portrait of Susan B. Anthony) to the Susan B. Anthony House here in Rochester, NY.  The citizens of Rochester know the legends of Susan B. well.  Her work along with her sister suffragettes were pivotal in getting the vote for women in the US.  One of her homes is here in Rochester, along with her grave.  Many sites in Rochester honor her with her name.  Household name in Rochester?  Absolutely.

So when I was contacted by Joann at the Susan B. Anthony House gift shop, it took me all of 3 seconds to know I wanted to do something to help them promote the name of Susan B. Anthony.  We agreed to an initial order as listed above.  She said that others she knew had purchased my pins at other art shows I had done, and told her about my work.  Can't beat word of mouth!  So if you want one of these buttons/pins, magnets, or stamps, drop by the Susan B. Anthony gift shop at 19 Madison Street and help support the SBA mission.

The second historic order I got to do was for Jim with the Welkins Base Ball Club of Port Huron, MI.  Jim was looking for a way to mark some of the vintage baseballs for this team.  The Welkins play vintage base ball (yes two words) with other similar clubs in Michigan an Ohio.  They are in their seventh season in 2013, and play other teams like the Royal Oak Wahoos and the Midland Might River Hogs.

Jim sent me the "shield" they use on their uniforms, and I carved that for the ball logo.  The carving was straight forward but stamping on a sphere is not trivial.  Taking something that is flat and trying to roll it onto a ball is an exercise in patience.  From the pictures that Jim took, looks like he has the knack for it!  I did the stamp in the softer "pink stuff" carving material to allow for some more "squishiness" to take into account the leather and the curve of the material being stamped.

It is exciting to think these little logos might get cracked into the air.  I'm glad this stamp turned out to be a home run.  (Sorry, couldn't resist the horrible pun).

Susan B. photos by John Ballou
Baseball photos by James Fisher

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Mayday Underground, Spring 2013 Wrap-up

It is hard to describe my excitement when I was setting up my booth at Mayday Underground Art + Craft this past Saturday at the Village Gate.  The other artisans setting up were just an amazing peer group to be affiliated with.  All have such vision and creativity.  I humbled to set up alongside them.

It was a wonderfully sunny day out, and the filtered light that comes through the skylights on the second floor of the Village Gate in Rochester fills the room with a nice light that make the room cheery.  The installation art in the room just lets you know you are in the right place.

I went with a traditional table arrangement.  Straight line of tables, try to vary some heights, and spread my items around.  A craft table is eye candy after all, so I try to keep it orderly.  I try to spread around the color since much of my set up is dull in color.  I worked on a new sign made of wood.  I plan to dress it up in the future, but it did the job at this show.

I often struggle with how to let the customer know what they are looking at.  It is very common for me to get a customer proclaim after looking at my table for several minutes, "Oh, you make rubber stamps!"  The way I have things packaged, it isn't obvious.  Something I need to work on.

The customers came out, and I had a steady stream by my table.  I had some great friends stop by to say "Hi," many who know be from the craft world, others from curling (thanks Dorothy, Stacy, and Cait).  I always love when previous customers come back and tell me about the other stamps they bought from me before.

Sales were brisk for a spring show.  Not my strongest Mayday show, but no complaints here.  Success at a show isn't always based on sales.  I made some great new contacts, and I usually get some interest in custom sales following.  Can't wait for the next Mayday this November.

A special thanks to Amanda and Casey and their team of volunteers who do an incredible job setting up, advertising, prepping, and planning this show.  Best organized show that I do.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Artist Cards

If you have ever been to one of my craft shows or in my etsy shop you know I like to make artist cards. What are those you say?

Some call them ATC's (Altered Trading Cards) or ACEO's (Artist Cards, Editions, and Originals). Whatever you call them they are the size of a poker card or a baseball card. Many of mine are made from sanding a poker card and stamping onto it.

These are really all about intrinsic value. They serve no true purpose. But then again, the Mona Lisa serves no true purpose either! They are just fun. It's approachable and affordable art. It's a chance for me to highlight some of the stamps that I have carved that I really like too much to sell.

I try to do these in editions. I think I'm on the fourth or fifth edition of the "Tell Tale Heart" cards. This means each time I make them I make a set of say 9-10 cards. When you buy one, its only one of a few that I made. Does this make them collectible? Probably, but don't cash in your piggy bank to invest in these, they are NOT that sought after.

Anyway it can be a fun hobby to pick up some of these and keep an album or display them on little miniature easels. Many people trade these as well, or so I am told. All the ones I have from other artists I find them hard to let go.

So keep checking back in my shop or at one of my shows because I intend to keep making these from time to time to show off some of my favorite hand carved stamps.

Pictured are the cards I have in inventory right now and will have at the Mayday Underground show this weekend.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Helpful Insects

I like bugs.  I don't like them when they bite me or buzz in my ear, or crawl on me, but otherwise I like them.  I like that the insect kingdom has over a million known species.  Over half of the known species on this planet are bugs.  Probably over 90% of all animal species that have ever existed on Earth have been insects.

Bugs don't get no respect.

Some do though.  I have carved two of these six legged supremacists that humans consider helpful insects.  The "ladybug" beetle and the honey bee.

The "Ladybug," or "Ladybird," are regarded as helpful due to their voracious appetite for aphids.  Aphids are those smaller little green insects that munch on the green leafs you are trying to grow in your garden or flower bed.  Yes, that makes the  cute little ladybug a natural born killer, ready to devour any little aphid in it's path.  Read: "deadly predator".

Of course you all know why the "honey bee" is useful, it's in the name for crying out loud!  Honey bees are so fascinating because of how they communicate with members of the hive, and how they seem to have this complex society with gender roles and forced labor camps.  I have to say as a dude I feel kind of sorry for all those drones (male bees) who just have to wait around for mating with the queen and have no stingers.  Actually, maybe I don't feel bad for them after all.

So I have carved these two bugs before, but haven't done these sets in awhile.  Each set has two stamps, one that stamps the black bug shape, and one solid stamp that is used to stamp the red parts for the ladybug, or the yellow part for the bee.  This two color effect gives the stamp a lot of depth, and really makes them pop off the page I think.  I just stamp the black part, then stamp the colored part right over the black.  The yellow and red are transparent, so the black still shows through.  Neat eh?

If you want one of these bugs, stop by my booth at Mayday Underground this weekend, or if they don't sell there, I will post in my Etsy shop later on.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Garvey Price Marker

I was excited today to try out my "new" vintage Garvey Price Marker.  I picked up a S-189 model off of Etsy.  I would give you the shop, but it looks like they have gone out of business now!  The thing came in a vintage looking box, but this one never got used.  The ink pad was brand new.  So I'm having fun adding prices to my newest items.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Next Show: Mayday Underground April 27

It's time for Mayday again!  I am so proud to be selected again to be one of 60 artists in this coming Saturday's Mayday Underground Art+Craft Show at the Village Gate in Rochester, NY from 10 am - 4 pm.

I was honored to be at the very first Mayday show on May 1, 2010 on St. Paul St.  We were all in this dusty basement of an empty warehouse on St. Paul Street.  We were literally "underground!"  The lighting was bad, the floors were dirty, and I LOVED IT!  It had such character!  The artists were from all over the spectrum of work.  And man did people come out! I remember being amazed at how many showed up when the doors opened to get the free swag bags (a tradition that has continued).

The organizers, Amanda and Casey, moved up to more habitable surroundings at the Village Gate on Goodman St., but the variety of indie artisans has not changed.  Each vendor is hand picked and consideration is made to not have too many jewelers, or paper crafts, or clothing, etc.  They strike the perfect balance of what the shopper will see.  This is no mistake because Amanda and Casey started this show because they had set up at way too many craft shows that didn't take any of this into consideration.  This entrepreneurial spirit has allowed them to create a show that has "edge."  This isn't the same stuff you will see at Corn Hill, or the Lilac Fest, or Clothesline.

One reason is the look.  This is not "your grandma's craft show."  Sticking google eyes on a rock is probably not going to get into this show (unless is was really rad).  Second is the vendors themselves.  Most of the indie artists at this show do not have the inventory or financial resources to justify the entrance fees into the larger art shows over the summer in Rochester.  I know that I can't anyway.  This means that all of what you see is handmade in small batches.  If Mayday Underground was a restaurant, you could expect to walk in and order a plate of food that was local, fresh, and cooked with soul.

If you haven't been to Mayday before, I think you will be surprised, it is one of the best unknown art shows that this city has to offer.  And I have heard on good authority that the next show will be a two-day bender on November 2 and 3, 2013.  I better get back to the carving board to work on more inventory!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Mega and Mini Monograms

Recently I completed a fun new challenge.  A customer sent me a beautiful monogram image.  My first impression was, "Wow, look at all that detail!"  It was scary, and that excited me.

She said she wanted it in two sizes, one that was large (6 inches tall by 5 inches wide) and one that was small (2 inches tall by 1.7 inches wide).

Normally, a large stamp means that I can put in a lot of detail based on the size of my carving tools. A small stamp means less detail, or I have to really squint and use a fine and light touch with the tools.

Let me tell you, even this big stamp was a healthy challenge to pack so much detail in.  I decided to time myself carving the big one, since I hadn't done that in while.  This was probably the largest stamp I have carved with this amount of detail in it, so I was curious how long it would take.  It took be about 6 hours of carving time, broken up into about four nights.  It really was a joy to work on, and I really did have fun doing it.  Those hours flew by, and I love the way it came out.

The little stamp I think took around 2 hours of carving time.  I couldn't get all the same lines that exist in the larger one, so that cut back on the total time.

This year I have more and more requests for large stamps.  It seems odd to me, but maybe my name is getting out as a guy who can carve BIG stamps.  I don't mind, I think they are fun.

For the record, I have not carved a stamp that is 12 inches x 12 inches yet (well I had one requested but we changed things around so it didn't come to that).  This is the largest slab of carving medium I can buy.  So, if you have a design, cash, and a way to impress a stamp that large, let me know, I'm your guy.