Friday, March 30, 2007

Quick solutions...

Sometimes innovation is due to necessity. I found that the shelf that I had over at Indigo Coffee and Tea was a little smaller than I expected, and the location was not amenable to the earrings that I was hoping to display. So, with a little bit of sawing, drilling, and glueing, there is now a sweet little earring tree placed on the countertop over at the coffeehouse ready for their opening day on Monday, April 2.

And if you want to build a quick earring tree for foldover earring cards, just pick up a couple of things at the hardware or sundries store (or root through your existing supplies): two wood screws, some 1 x 1 square wood (I used a foot length), 3 foot dowels about a quarter inch in diameter (I made 6 branches about 8 inches long each from 2 dowels with leftovers), a wooden plaque (I added a photo frame around the plaque) to use as the base, wood glue, and some cork (or felt). You'll need a drill and a drill bit suitable for a pilot hole for your wood screws and one that's the same size as your dowel, and some kind of saw to make 90-degree cuts. First mark you foot-long 1-inch stock 1 inch, 3 inches, and 5 inches from the top (centered to the 1-inch width), and then rotate the stock a quarter turn and mark at 2 inches, 4 inches, and 6 inches from the top. Drill holes the size of your dowels straight through each of the marked locations on the face of the stock where you marked. Use a saw to create either 6 equal dowel lengths (8 inches) or 2 each of 3 graduated lengths (8, 10, and 12 inches), or be even more creative with 6 different graduated lengths (8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 inches). Begin assembling the tree by inserting each of your branches through the drilled holes (adding a touch of wood glue to the drilled hole before inserting the dowel or to the dowel itself before positioning it in it's final location). Flip the trunk of your tree upside down and drill pilot holes for 2 screws in the what will be the base. Drill the same configuration of holes in your wooden plaque base. Screw both screws flush or countersunk from the bottom of the plaque base through and into the tree trunk base. Two screws will help prevent rotation... Glue cork or felt to the bottom side of your plaque base, allow the glue to dry, and you've got a lovely jewelry tree!

Of course, I shoulda taken a photograph of the tree, but I need to build a couple more, so as soon as they're built, I'll add photos here!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Coasting to Indigo

I've finished the staining and finishing processes for my coaster sets, one of the first set of items I will be featuring in the gift shop of Indigo Coffee and Tea, a new coffeehouse here in Verona, WI. I'm quite pleased with the Procion MX dyes I used to stain the boxes. There's some color variations, but they add character, so all's good!

There are four sets, examples are shown throughout this blog. I've thoroughly enjoyed putting the final touches on these boxed sets of coasters--after fretting about a number of the details regarding the boxes. The container boxes that I selected for these sets have a recessed box top, perfect for display of the customer's favorite coaster right on top of the box. My biggest concerns for displaying these items in a store was that potential customers would want to open the boxes and see the coasters within, so I fashioned a "strapping tape" and fabric ribbon temporary closure.

As a last minute addition, I selected brass corners for all 8 of the corners on each box. I'm pleased with how the corners add a little more character and shine to these stained boxes, especially when all 4 coasters would be in use and the box empty.

Voila! Abstract Coasters a la Edna M. Kunkel. : )

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

All Boxed Up

Abstract Coaster by Edna M. Kunkel designed using alcohol inks Today I resumed experimenting with dyes, this time with Procion MX dyes as stains for my wooden boxes. The experiments went so well that they will be used as the containers for my abstract marble coasters (see coaster image at left), and I'll continue using this staining technique on other wood projects. I'll do the finish work on the boxes tomorrow, and take photos of the boxed sets for posting tomorrow.

I also found out that the salt resist technique with my alcohol inks and PrintWorks Ultra Glossy Photo paper (the only type of photo paper I've found with a surface that will crackle) Crackle Box with abstract box top designed by Edna M. Kunkelwill actually exacerbate the crackling process, and will allow me to control how much. Cool! I recently stocked up on this paper, which has become increasingly difficult to find (only one online vendor actually had the paper in stock). I guess that these Crackle Boxes will be limited edition boxes, based on the fact that that this photo paper has a bad reputation for long dry times (which for my crackling process is actually a benefit).

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What Goes on Behind the Scenes

Some days as an artist are devoted mostly to really mundane tasks. Today was one of those days where I chose to clump the necessary tasks into most of a day. Placing sets of earrings on their cards. Determining prices. Deciding on appropriate titles. Tracking down a list of all materials used to make a piece. Making inventory lists for consignment pieces. Designing and printing little table tent cards to be placed next to display pieces. Running out for depleted supplies. Deciding which pieces work best together as a set (when each was designed individually). Quality control under sunlight to make sure that any unintentional blemishes are repaired.

Of course, days like these require several diversions, and experiments are always fun. So does a salt resist technique work with alcohol inks on wood? Yes, but the results are quite different than I expected. The wicking properties of the wood proved to first accept normal gravitational properties (flowing downward), and then took on antigravity flow in the upward direction. This led me to reminisce back to days of developing TLC (thin layer chromatography) plates in the lab. Ah, yes, dye migration and solvent evaporation can be useful in an artist's studio. Plus at the end of the process, the color of the salt had changed to that of a pale green. Hmmm, caramel and terra cotta make green?

How well do these alcohol inks work on the surface of an emptied egg? They're designed for non-porous surfaces, so they should work pretty well right? They've also worked well on some porous surfaces (paper, tumbled marble, wood), so the partially porous eggshell should be a good choice. It's been ages since I poked holes in both ends of an egg and blew the contents out, but that part of the feat was a success, as was the washing process. The application of dye wasn't as successful. Maybe I need to add more water or some vinegar to it? The chemist in me has to check whether calcium carbonate is soluble in alcohol (it's not). Yet I'm still surprised that the dye doesn't seem to successfully stick to the surface, especially since it will to shiny metals and plastics. I guess there's a little more experimentation to be done--but I've got to save some fun for tomorrow...

Monday, March 26, 2007

26 divided by 2 is lucky 13?

It's been a beading-kind of day. First, I had to run out to find a specific small gold bead, but had to make 3 stops before finding what I wanted. Had I selected the counterclockwise route, I would have stopped at this store first, but then would have missed an opportunity to stock up on my wooden box blanks, and find a box style that will be just right to contain a set of 4 marble coasters (and save me from constructing boxes this week). In my mind, I really wanted to make a trip up to Baraboo and Turtle Island Beads, but, then, that would have been an expensive shopping trip!

Today's beading frenzy led to creation of 2 pairs of earrings designed to match a lapis lazuli necklace that was purchased with a request for matching earrings, 1 pair of extra long (at least for me) Crazy in Purple and Pink Long Dangle Earrings that are now up for sale in my Etsy shop, and 10 pairs of earrings that I'll be dropping off for consignment a little later this week. Hmmm, I wonder if leaving the production end today with 13 pairs is wise, or am I just being mildly triskaidekaphobic? ; )

Tomorrow night's slide viewing will tell whether my joint application with Stephanie Funck ( for a spot in Art Fair Off the Square will end as a successful acceptance. We have joined together in the past for gallery shows, and have created a pseudo-entity for this year's application as a team named "B-ware" because our booth will be filled with baskets, boxes, books, and, if you haven't figured it out yet, things that begin with the letter "b".

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Save as Draft...

ElectriKolor BannerOkay, I'm used to writing in an application that automatically saves a draft, and lost a lovely post here after previewing and not saving, so my lesson for the day is Save as Draft and save often. I've re-written the primary content here, but it's never the same. Fortunately for the reader, the second time around is more succinct. : )

Etsy, Etsy, Etsy. Somedays it feels like I need to be obsessed with marketing and driving traffic to my Etsy ElectriKolor storefront, just so that I can make my first sale. I began setting up a shop in the middle of February, and now have over 70 items for sale. My marketing campaign includes an email sent out to family and friends about the opening of my shop, a press release on PRWeb sent to a set of 5 target markets to increase exposure, a small ad to appear in the May issue of Madison Magazine, links from my primary ElectriKolor website, and now, here, I blog.

Edna M. Kunkel's Dialog Boxes I also continue to donate art to organizations that I support, including WPT (Wisconsin Public Television--my 3rd year as a participant in their Arts and Antiques Auction), WPR (Wisconsin Public Radio, just don't tell them that I'm not a listener--but I have buddies who just love public radio), and just dropped off a donation for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Out of the Box Auction. The boxes that I donated are a series of four "Dialog Boxes", painted wooden boxes with an abstract box top and a set of cards inside dedicated to provoke dialog between those intending to marry (or be in a strongly committed relationship). Do you think we will have problems with your family during the holidays? The first thing I noticed about you was… Who will pay bills? With whom will we socialize as a couple? Why are we getting married? All questions with good intentions.


This is my first blog, and as a new "left my 9-to-5 job to make it in the self-employed" attitude, I believe that I will have a lot to share about taking risks, making choices that are fulfilling, the approaches that I'm using to get (and stay) on track, the moments when I choose to veer off track to try some new adventures, and how I manage to use my knowledge and experience in art, science, and writing.

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