Sunday, September 30, 2007

French Quarter still struggling Post K

After the Arts Market of New Orleans yesterday,I headed down to the quarter to attend the end the war march which is now going to be a monthly event.

After finding a great and free spot on Esplanade (one of quite a few), it was time to march up Royal Street in order to catch up with the group outside the Louisiana Supreme Court building.

It shouldnt be so easy to find a parking spot on a Saturday night outside the French Quarter.There were tons of people in their LSU gear walking around but there still wasnt a crowd to be found anywhere. There was a faux second line coming down the street for someone's wedding, heading out of the St. Louis Cathedral and around the block before hitting a rest. for someone's wedding. I say faux because the only Black people in the second line happened to be the band...

At any rate, it was pretty quiet and tame so it wasnt hard to notice all the empty shops,places going out of business and such. Not so much in the lower quarter where there are a lot of residents and home ownership, but much more around Jackson Square.
I didnt really think about the ease of parking and such til close to ho
me.It was a lovely night, kinda cool, and there is a big convention in town.Am hoping business will pick up for folks and more people come visit.

Friday, September 28, 2007

This Handmade Life... our Etsy debut

Today Heather and I made our Etsy debut:

Etsy has a fantastic new feature on their Storque where they interview folks about their process, show their studios, et al. We were fortunate to be able to meet with Erin when she visited this past Mardi Gras.

We really appreciate Erin Haldrup's shout out to New Orleanians. She has so far featured quite a few New Orleans Etsians. Thanks yall for all the care you show to our city!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Making it right Brad Pitt, Common Ground and others making our city a better place to live

After the Saints lose several weeks in a row, my students have said they want to hang the season up. But for every reason we want to hang it up sometimes, there are 20 more to keep plugging away and make this city better. I woke up this morning to hear about a redevelopment in the lower ninth ward that is going to impact our community, for the better, in about 150 different ways.
I was just in the ninth ward 2 days ago and took these pics:

For all of the neighborhoods you see coming back with aplomb, there are just as many struggling and suffering and the 9th ward is clearly suffering.
One thing I hope these developers keep in mind, is that this area suffers from a dearth of green space where familes can get exercise, ride bikes and enjoy nature.
When we were house hunting, we looked at several homes in the upper ninth ward but the biggest problem was that so many houses had no available green space nearby to bring our dog to or for us to ride our bikes or even take a long walk. The neighborhood is disected and bisected by wide swaths of mean streets and fast cars.
There are also no more corner stores. So thanks Brad Pitt, but let's also keep in mind that we need resources for wholistic living to sustain our community as well.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Surfing for Debris in New Orleans,Central City

On a lazy Indian Summer type day we headed over to The Bank to see if there was any fabulous architectural salvage we just couldnt live without.The Bank is one of those fantastic, overpriced, architectural salvage places that you can find everything you want but nothing you can afford. It feeds your chippy rusty soul kind of like an Abita Pecan Beer.

The drive to the Bank is one of those turn back in time adventures a person can only have in New Orleans due to the lack of gentrification in areas like Central City.Low brow charm at its best, this aged neighborhood has pockets of its former glory as a historic Black Shopping District but they are covered in vines, plywood sould shuttered against the light of day.Being near these buildings is like brushing up against the fur of history in the night.

If you head south on Rampart, out of the quarter and follow the road along and never turn, you'll hit this spot just a few blocks past the Interstate overpass.Brightly colored murals and a Hope Community Credit union are your guideposts. During the week, you can hit Cafe Reconcile on your right for a genuine New Orleans lunch either before or after your jaunt. They are not open on the weekends. Dont miss the red beans and rice or etouffe.

The Bank is your second or third left at the light past the Cafe on either Felicity or Euterpe. It's a muse- that's all that sticks in the memory.

Housed in a nondiscript red building with black shutters, the Bank houses great salvage and snippy service.There may be a bit too much lead paint inhalation on the premises so keep your visit brief.Prices do vary based on who waits on you so try to get the younger guy to help you out. He's nice.

Dont miss the fabulous debris piles featured around and amongst this neighborhood.There is a shotgun double right next door that threw out their entire slate roof. Sigh.

Across the street was a great cast iron bed and various and sundry rusty metalicious delights on the curb, ripe for the picking. This is a dont miss neighborhood for trash picking and debris surfing!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Buying Architectural Salvage in the New Orleans Area

When we finally realized the storm wasnt a coming on Saturday, the shopping bug set in & we set out to find some more salvage to work with. We headed to Second Chance Salvage in old Gretna by the river to check out what they have got over there right now.

Mr. Jackson, who runs the place, will sell you the whole she-bang for 50,000, he'll tell you that anytime.Just incase you arent interested in the entire shop, he has very reasonable prices on the items you are looking for.

On a recent trip, we got some great chippy cypress molding for ten dollars a board.We also got antique bricks for our garden at a quarter a piece, a roof ornament for 25 dollars and various assorted corbels and finials for a song.
Call Mr. Jackson to see when he will be open. Since his back surgery he has not kept regular hours but you will find him there most days during the week if it isnt too warm.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tropical Disturbance Ack!

We have been preparing like crazy in case we have a serius deluge around here this weekend. Should say I have been preparing as Heather doesnt think anything is coming.Surely hope she is right with this situation.I have drilled holes and cut down balusters like crazy incase we are stuck inside and have to find something to do. Big frowns as we were supposed to have a cookout.This afternoon am going to take pictures of all of our shrubs in bloom. Mother nature does seem to be telling us that no storm will come because the bird of paradise that has taken over the whole front yard is seriously in bloom. She normally doesnt bloom til the end of October.
At any rate, sandbagging will have to be done on the studio that is still under repair. Wish us luck! and all of the gulf coast too!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Evacuation Tips for Crafters

Whenever we get alerted to something "brewing in the gulf" I tend to get a little antsy. Rollo May, creativity philosopher extraordinare calls this feeling the physical call to action for the artist.He says anxiety is the body's response to do something. I've put together these tips for my fellow artistas who live in areas that may be evacuated so you can do something with the antsy feeling and better prepare yourself should the worst thing happen.

1. What to evacuate with first: pets, people, & papers. The first two need no explanation I hope. The important paperwork you are going to need will be your tax documents from the past three years, your sales records,and insurance, birth certificate, passport. S.B.A. and CERF (Crafters Emergency Relief Fund) require documentation of your livelihood that comes from your art work. Without documentation they simply cannot help you. Also, even if you do not own your own home, you need to have reneters insurance if only to cover all the funds you've out into tools and supplies. Most renter's insurance policies are about $50 a month at the most expensive rates.

2. You need to decide what small supplies/tools you can take along with you to fill the anxious hours (which can turn into days, weeks,) while you wait to see what has happened to your home.Trust me, you will need something small to do to keep yourself occupied. Hopefully you wont need it.

3. Take along any items you have listed on etsy or take your recent sales and mail them from your evacuation place, not your evacuation city. We lost millions and millions of bits of mail here in Katrina.

4. What you cant take, document. We have been taking photographs of all of our art work and collections and have been posting them to private files on flicker just in case of another freak storm. Insurance cannot pay you the full value if you dont have documentation and the best form is a photograph. If you have receipts those need to be taken with you as well.You cant take everything with you, obviously, so just take a picture and post them to a free shareware site so you know they are safe. You can also back this up by emailing some pics to yourself.

5. Take your most precious tool or two if you can fit them in the car. We had to sneak back into the city to get our tools of the trade so we could work under the cities' mandatory evacuation policy. We werent sure about our jobs or employment and needed to make sure we could make money elsewhere. I ended up opening a shop in an antique mall and Heather took carpentry jobs in the area. This also kept us less stressed out as we had something else to focus on.

6. Get a copy of your fellow artists' emails and contact numbers just in case. After Katrina we had a few networks of our fellow crafters to comiserate with and hear about art opportunties elsewhere. This helped us feel like we could pick up and move some place if we had to and still have our creative lives somewhat intact.

I hope you never have to use these tips, but just in case, you'll feel less anxious...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Creativity and Activism Indigo Girls In New Orleans

We went to the Indigo Girls show the other night and it was fantastic, as usual.

Once again, these ladies have hit the stage to benefit yet another grassroots organization. This time is was a benefit for Sweet Home Louisiana, an organization that is working really hard to help musicians get in their homes and get on their feet financially post Katrina. They also lent the state to a few other groups that are working on some of the more inherent difficulties in our area- Free the Jena Six and Save our Streets.
The Jena Six group is working on the case of the six high school boys who were tried as adults in Jena Louisiana and found guilty after a school fight that was provoked when another group of students hung nooses on school property.Those students should have been expelled and this never would have happened. An all white Jury found the other young men guilty.There is a protest going on Thursday, Sept. 20th in Jena Louisiana that day to protest the miscarriage of justice in the case.
Save our streets is dedicated to assisting neighborhoods with promoting safety in the wake of street violence.

What I love about the Indigo girls is their tireless efforts to make the world a better place. The benefit we went to this summer in Flagstaff was for Save the Earth. The guitar pic they threw out had- end war, use biodiesel- on them.

These women have been churning out music for a good 25 years and they only get better with age. They sang Kid Fears- its been almost 20years since I've heard them sing it in concert.

So I bought Amy Ray's new punk CD Prom and quite frankly she's still churning the creative hits out. Her voice was never more clear or anguished. Anyone of us can only hope we're still fresh and having a good time with it, 25 years later,right?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Market Season- Thanks to the Patrons

It has been great to get back to the markets this month and reconnect with the arts market community- artists, administrators and guests/customers. How much can we artists thank the people who promote and put on these shows and then the patrons that show up, without fail, to cheer us up, inspire and egg us along.

I do not believe these markets are solely about making money. They are a way to connect with your community and re invest your money back into it, sustaining it for years to come.

Where would New Orleans be without its artists(musical,visual,fine crafts) and its patrons?

-No where-

Yakoke (Choctaw for thanks) Yall

Thursday, September 13, 2007

When your thrifting dreams become reality...

After a trip to the country this past weekend, Heather suprised me with a bit of cut velvet heaven and an early birthday gift- a pink and green sofa.She visted the Goodwill in Covington while on a thrifting trip with out friend Rudy and found this jewel. She was even able to bargain with the salesclerk and get the rather pricey sofa priced to half. Perhaps that is why it was still sitting there at the shop.
I've never bargained at Goodwill, but the Salvation Army on Jefferson Highway and the thriftshop at Bridge House have both been places where you can go to the manager and try to get the price cut down. Especially if you are not an antiques shopkeeper .
Perhaps Heather told them this furniture would become our kittens' new jungle gym?
Whatever she did, it worked,& many thanks thrifting universe!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Creative Challenge #1@3$%!

We're working hard trying to get our stuff off of the tables.It's really nice to walk into a booth and be able to look up and around and not down at items. I'm usually drawn to booths where everything is up and out of the way.

It's a struggle too because Heather doesnt like change but this we have got to change if we are going to get into any larger festivals this year.I also refuse to pay $600 for those white tent panels that are not recycled and look like high tech volleyball nets.What an abuse of cornering the market on "artists who need to hang." sheesh

Putting up metal mesh is very unwieldy and looks a little too 80s high tech. It doesnt fit with our aesthetic.If only you could get that lightweight and rusty.

The problem with hanging my work like this is that the customer wants to buy the crate too. The crates are falling a bit apart my dears, do you really want this?
So now I am becoming a crate repair person and we'll see how that figures into the price.Sigh.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Laissez le bon temp roullez at the inaugural Freret Market in New Orleans

Oh we passed a good time at the Freret Market yesterday yall. We had the perfect spot,lots of customers, and got to see some sweethearts we hadnt seen in a while like Janet and Monte,& Greg and Mark from the old flower shop on Esplanade Avenue.

Rudy and Christie were there and Paula had signed up too.Paula said she had a day that was like "three DDD fests in one" and Rudy always sells out.

Apparently our mayor Ray Nagin & recovery czar Ed Blakely decided to venture out and declare the event a success but we didnt need them to tell us that. The weather was great,albeit hot, and just a few sprinkles meant we didnt have to duck & cover.

What I like so much abut this venue is the great location for uptown which really seems about 80% recovered.Also, the combination of Dunbar's seafood, fresh shrimp from St. Bernard Parish,and the flea market vendors means that people can walk from their homes and buy groceries, crafts and eat a hot meal.

If you are considering this venue to sell your wares I strongly encourage you to contact Peter at because there may be no more spaces left.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Freret Market Starts Tomorrow! Freret at Napolean 12-5pm

It's really great to be seeing a new market open uptown this weekend. Freret Market is pulling together Flea, Farmers and Artists from 12-5pm. Even if we dont come home richer with cashola we will have our veggies and fresh flowers for the week and possibly some great new stuff from the Flea Market.Cree McCree is supposed to be there and she ran the Kingpin for that past few years- remember how fun that was?

So she probably has her cast of flea characters and we cant wait. See ya there!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Stay Local Shop Local Be Local

We cant do it all. I have seriously tried to make every little bit of the items and bits we need for our business but a few things I dont have the time to make and I dont want to shop ETSY for it. Can everything be handmade (credit card slips, imprinter, etc.?). We just had to hit town and buy bags and boxes for ourselves today and it made me feel good because we were helping a Mid City business stay afloat. I am talking about Royal Box Company on Lafitte street, right across from the brake tag station in New Orleans yall.
Joann and her husband have run the company for many years. Even after Ktrina flooded out their business, they ran it from the kitchen table to keep their customers afloat. Along with the tons of boxes and stuff they lost, they lost customers. What customers were left in town often were unable to pay their accounts as very few folks actually had business insurance that was willing to pay out for flood damage.One customer has been there for almost 25 years and while she has ordered boxes from Joann since Katrina, she cant pay her bill. They just found out this same customer is getting them from China.That aint right.
Joann gave us a great deal on the bags- the large size for the Fleur debris are 68 for 250, the medium size for shotgun houses and angels are 250 for 60 and the smaller tiny bags for cuffs came to about 30 for a case. We feel really good heping them out and- helping out their rescued beagle mix, Bella.Bella helped them ride out the storm at the Hilton (imagine!) and she resides close to the front door to keep Mommy safe.
Buy Local!
Royal Box Company
2900 Block Lafitte Street

Sunday, September 2, 2007

How to be successful at a New Orleans Area Art Market

Now that the summer is fading away and the fall is approaching,all of us New Orleans area Art Market regulars (or semi:)regulars)are gearing up for the season. We're dusting off our tents, ordering credit card slips and washing tablecloths.

I am by no means the most successful or the most well known, but I've been selling since the first Bywater Art Market opened up the fall after 9/11 had a fledgling 22 artists in the driveway and roadway of Piety street. I've seen many of those folks drop out due to boredom, moving away or going on to bigger and better things.

I'll just share a few of the things I have learned in the past six years to make it a bit smoother for you. They really helped me.

1.Know your audience.No where is this more pertinent than with jewelry artists.It is really important to know who you are making your item for and whether they will show up at your market or not. When we first started out promoting our recycled items, we were most successful at Festivus where people were really looking for recycled items. We sold out every day and that was when I had to turn over making the shotgun houses to Heather as I felt like a factory.You've got to know who are the folks who turn out for such an event. Where is the advertising and what items will these people be most likely to buy. With the jewelry artists, we've seen many leave the markets and it is most likely due to the competition. If what you are making is not easily distinguishable from the next person, run, because you will then be stuck making money only if you lower your prices, or only look at this as a hobby and have someone financially backing you.If people who come to this particular Market are only looking for bargains or worse, ideas for their own crafting opportunity (you'll figure it out in about three markets or so), find the nearest exit.

2. Invest... in a tent.The weather is just too treacherous in New Orleans to not do this. Get a white one and the one that is the easiest to put up. Spend money on this because once you get a junk tent,you are stuck.Also get a white one. Most art markets dont want you to have a multi colored tent. They look unprofessional.Don't worry that you'll never get it up by yourself. The New Orleans group is very friendly.Even if you have a "W" sticker on your car.

3.Get yourself set up to take credit cards.Especially if one of the events you are selling at has alcohol. If you have a Paypal account, you can sign up to take them, also PROPAY has an affordable plan. Mr Imprinter on ebay will sell you the slips (inexpensively) and get you a knucklebuster. Research very carefully all of the details of the plan and what information you have to get from the customer to make the sale. Even two years post Katrina almost everyone here has a crazy address or mail situation, only a cell phone, and are difficult to probably is not a good idea to invest in the remote credit card machine until you are making a regular 3-5 thousand every event.

4. Display. This is one of my pet peeves about booths I enter where everything is cramed on one table , perhaps along with someone whose booth you are sharing.
People like me who like to spend money want a long focused look at the items. Let the eye be able to rest on one item at a time. Especially if you are selling your art work over the 100 mark.when I want a jumble sale I'm going to go garage saleing. When I spend my big bucks- I want a display that looks like someone cared and thought about it.

5.Location.Some markets you can get do first come, first served for a spot where customers are most likely to wander in and see you first. Or, first paid, first spot. The rule of thumb is the more people who see your stuff, the more sales you will have.You'll see quickly that the top sellers pay early and come early and get a front spot where the most people pass by.If you are serious about making money, get there early and pay early.Ask the person who runs the market. They are running the market because they want the artists to be successful.

6. Advertise. Put flyers up at coffeehouses and craigs list if you cannot afford the staggering cost of a Gambit ad. Post on, volunteer to put out the free flyers that the show is making for us. Call in to the Andre show, Wtul, whatever it takes. Also look for less expensive ads. We are putting an ad in Anti Gravity because they are so cool and less expensive than Gambit.Also, Where Y'at puts out a nice pre Jazz fest bible where you can get an ad comparable to the readership of Gambit but not the staggering cost.get a blog, post online, myspace, send out emails, get a website,whatever you can do to get the word out.

7. Get ready. Get organized in advance of the market date. You won't remember at the last minute when you are loading your car up. You'll be tired and sleepy.get all your stuff together in advance so you can focus on making stuff at the last minute. The last minute surge of creativy is always the first thing that sells out.

8. Get happy. Customers like happy not overly occupied shop keepers. Dont talk to much to your friends and family or be on the cell phone when customers come to your booth.Dont talk about your digestive problems or political issues within earshot.No one is at the art market because they like to shop at the mall so dont act like you work at Forever 21. Do talk about how happy you are with the turnout, the weather, someone's outfit, life, la la la. Become an art market happy lovely zombie.Frowny faces, tragically hip attitudes and whineys dont make sales.Dont roll your eyes when someone else does at your prices. People will come along who love your stuff as long as you love it.Talk about it if someone asks. Make eye contact if the customer does first. Make yourself smile.

9. Get Zen. This experience is really about what you put into it. The only thing you have control over is your attitude. If it is a slow day, have something to keep you busy, work you could be doing, etc. Positive attitudes bring more people into your booth. Think wax on wax off:visualize yourself making sales and doing what you love every day. Look upon what you make as a vehicle to get there.Selling is part of it too. Heather and I have just had to embrace this. Neither one of us are big time salespeople but we really love what we make. We just go with it like that and it works.

10. Know when to fold them. There have been a few markets, some super convienent, price and location wise, that just havent worked for us. Decide what your threshold for folding will be. If you have a steady crowd every market and the money isnt big but it leads to other sales, I'd say stay year after year. People will come back. If you go to 3 or 4 markets and you still dont get business,or it doesnt lead to comissions or bigger sales I'd get out.

that's all for now, hope this helps and see ya at the markets!

Market on the first Saturday: Freret Market,Gretna Art Walk and Northshore Art Market
Market on the second Saturday: Crescent City Craft Mafia? (have to check on this)
Market on the third Saturday: Bywater Art Market
Market on the last Saturday: The market formerly known as Mid City which is now Arts Market of New Orleans

Seasonal Markets/Festivals:
Festivus!,Preservation Resource Holiday Boutique,Chappell Craft Show,Mirliton Festival, Voodoo Fest,Wednesdays at the Square,Jazz Fest

Saturday, September 1, 2007

John T Scott passes away

It is hard to believe that New Orleans' genius artist John T Scott has passed away. His sculptures are so synonomous with driving around Gentilly - the sculpture where Gentilly meets St Bernard Ave and then the ones around New Orleans Museum of Art.

He also was a mentor and friend of Larry Nevil who we just love to death. I hope that he has peace and no more pain. He will mkae heaven a beautiful place to be.

Photos above by Judy Cooper,