Monday, August 27, 2012

Joan's Gems

Recently, I vended at a show in Denton, MD called Shop Hop. It was an interesting show to say the least. You had everything from quilts to pottery and home made treats to wood carvings. It was a lot of fun. If you are familiar with the items I make you are more than likely wondering why I was at a place that seemed to attract more "Country Living" type folks as opposed to my usual rocker/horror nut/Baltimore crowd. One word: Grandma. Yes, I vended a show with my Grams. The show wasn't a total bust like some I've been to. At this one I spent time with my Grandma, made some gas money, got my diet coke fix, and met an awesome lady named Joan. Joan is a super cool, laid back kinda gal who makes amazing jewelry! I have kept in contact with her since the show and she was nice enough to answer a few questions so that my readers could get to know this awesome artist a bit better!


So here is some info about Joan:

My name is Joan Nubie and I live in Cambridge, MD. I work full time at my jewelry making and wire art -Joan's Gems.

1. How long have you been making jewelry? How did you get into making jewelry?

 I started making jewelry in 2001 as a way to pass the time as we were cruising and living aboard on our sailboat. I showed some of the earrings I made to some friends and through their praise and encouragement I signed up for my first show. I successfully sold some items and was very excited to make more and more so I jumped in and bought supplies for my next show and starting making what I call my wire art - ornaments, bubble wands, book marks, key chains, barrettes, etc. Sometimes when we look into the room in our house that I use as my studio, full of boxes of beads and supplies and tables covered in projects we look back at my humble beginnings on our boat when I had a few tools and a drawstring bag of beads and its hard to imagine the start of it all. There was a lot less room to work on the boat!

2. How long have you been selling on Etsy? and what do you think makes Etsy stand out as a website for crafters and artists above other sites?

Even though I started making jewelry in 2001, I started my first website in 2004 until I found Etsy in 2009. My own website was expensive and time-consuming to build and keep up. I love Etsy for the value and the tools they provide. It stands out because of the community and support that it has. When I had my own website I had to work hard to be found in search engines and place expensive pay-per-click ads. The community and network in Etsy helps with promoting your work, but you do get out of it what you put into it! You need to spend some time networking on Etsy and building Treasuries and circles to be a bigger part of the community. That's the biggest challenge for me - to find the time for promoting my work on Etsy in this busy work-a-day world. I have to schedule time to even post listings.

3. What item currently for sale in your Etsy shop is your favorite? Why? Please include a link to this item so I can show a picture.

My favorite item on my Etsy page is some new jewelry I just made using a 1935 Monopoly game. Here is a link to the Boardwalk Necklace 

I made matching Park Place earrings too. I've had a lot of fun with that one game and more to come! My bubble wands are probably my best seller on my site. I'm always glad to sell them for kids - young and old!

4. Every year the DIY Arts and Crafts Movement continues to grow. Do you think this will have a positive or negative effect on your business? Why? What struggles have you encountered with your business? How did you deal with them?

Yes, the Arts and Crafts movement continues to grow. I also panic that this will hurt me because jewelry making is one of the most popular categories to start with. Seems like the shows I do have more and more jewelry competition and I always worry that there might not be enough pieces of the pie to go around. Sometimes I just have to take a deep breath and remind myself of my customer following and have confidence that my work will shine through. So that answers the question about the crafts movement and it is also one of the struggles I encounter with my business. How to succeed with all the competition and stay fresh and constantly work to come up with new pieces.

5. Are you working on anything new that you would like to share?

As far as new things I'd like to share, mostly I have worked to branch out in more gift shops and galleries. I was in 2 last year and now I am in 4. The Treasure Chest in Oxford, The Dorchester Arts Center, The Sunnyside Shop in Cambridge and the Witte Gallery in Easton. I also have something really big I'm working on but its still in the works so I can't share it right now. I'd love to tell the world about it, so I'll let you know when I can. No, sorry its not Oprah or QVC!

6. Where would you like to see your business go in the next 5 years? What is your next step?

Oh, I always hate these questions about where will you be 5-10 years from now. I work so hard to keep up with the present! I'm always envious when I see artist friends who are successful selling to shops regionally or even nation wide. I would hope to be in more outlets to be able to work smarter and have more outlets selling for me. I always swear I'm going to spend more time building my Etsy site too, spending more time to build up a following and sales, so I'd like to accomplish at least that! My Etsy page offers just a sampling of the work I do, so I want to work to make more well-rounded and a better representation of my work.

7. What advice would you give to someone that is new to selling handmade items on Etsy?

For new people selling on Etsy, well, you have to figure out a way to be different from all the other handmade goods, and work with the Etsy community to promote each other and have fun! Sales won't come easy as Etsy continues to grow and we all reach for apiece of that pie. But if you stick with it, they will come.

Want to know more about Joan or places where you can find her items for sale? Check this out:

In addition to my Etsy page, I have a Facebook Page - Joan's Gems for people to follow me on and take advantage of give-aways and discounts. Also, I am at the shops listed above and I attend the Easton, Oxford and Cambridge Farmer's Markets. I also attend some juried shows such as the Dorchester Arts Showcase and The Queen Anne's Art Center Heck With The Malls Show.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

I Want Blood, Guts, and Angel Cake

"Great art is not meant to make you comfortable; it's supposed to make you think and feel. Sometimes it has to shock us, smack us in the face and break through our defenses in order to poke at the soft, unprotected parts of our brains... which we don't always want to see. But isn't that one of the definitions of horror?" -Gregory Burkart

This is one of my most favorite quotes tied to horror. So many times I feel the need to justify and defend my love for movies covered in blood, rape, mayhem, and that which is taboo. I love shock value, exploitation, and the obscene. I do watch other genres where there are happy endings where the boy gets the boy or the children raise the money in time to save the house, but at the end of the day what I really want is blood, guts, and angel cake.

One of my most favorite directors is Wes Craven. This man is amazingly talented when it comes to horror. His trademark style of horror comes in many forms. His films typically have ordinary characters that are caught in extraordinary, terrifying, and horrific circumstances. His protagonists usually come up with elaborate traps to catch and or kill their predator(s), which are usually amazingly brutal and quite often violent. He also likes to write characters that are strong females, both good and evil. He is considered to be responsible to reinventing the youth horror genre with the ever popular film, A Nightmare on Elm Street. He is also responsible for being the master mind behind the Scream series, Shocker, Swamp Thing, The People Under the Stairs, and The Hills Have Eyes, just to name a few. His first feature film was The Last House on the Left.

The Last House on The Left is a brutal, violent film about a young girl named Mari Collingwood who has just turned 17. She has plans to go out to the city with her friend, Phyllis Stone to celebrate. Her overprotective parents give Mari a gift (they give her a peace sign necklace, which she wears as soon as she opens it) and reluctantly allow Mari to go to the city with Phyllis, unsupervised, for a concert. Naturally, there is news of a recent prison escape involving an assorted group of ruthless criminals. The group is made up for 4 people, Krug, Junior, Sadie and Weasel. Krug is the leader of the group as well as a known rapist and serial killer. Junior is Krug's son who is kind of along for the ride and doesn't know much better than what is going on around him. Sadie is the only female in the group and is a sadist as well as a psychopath. Weasel is a child molester, peeping tom, and a murderer. Before Mari and Phyllis go to the concert they decide to try and score some marijuana and run into Junior, who takes them to where the other three criminals are staying claiming to have pot. The gang then begins their torture on the two girls which involves humiliation and rape. Meanwhile, Mari's parents are waiting for her to come home to a surprise party. The next day the gang decides to leave the state and take the girls along for the trip. Ironically, their car craps out on them very close of Mari's house. They gang walks through the woods and continues to torture their victims in ways that I won't go into for anyone that hasn't seen the film, but the end result is both girls are murdered. After the gang cleans themselves up and changes out of their bloodied clothes, they go looking for a place to stay and end up at Mari's parents house. While there, Mari's parents discover the bloodied clothes and the peace sign necklace and decide to take matters into their own hands. This is where Wes Craven's trademark elaborate traps come into play. I won't tell you what happens at the end, as not to spoil it for anyone that hasn't seen it, but it's definitely worth a watch.

What can I say, Wes Craven certainly knows how to make a directorial debut! This film came out 40 years ago! In fact, August 30th will be the exact date of the films release. This, like many American and Italian films at the time, was a controversial film. Generally, it was received positively, but with all films with graphic and hardcore imagery and language, there were some censorship issues all over the world. The UK and Australia had the hardest time allowing this film to be viewed in their country. Australia kept this film banned until 2004 and was finally released in the UK on dvd in 2003.Mark Kermode, a film critic from London, called the film, "horrible, grim, and nasty," and that its idea that "violence begets violence comes off as obnoxious." However, he also described this film as a "very, very important work in the evolution of American horror cinema." When it comes to art, music, and film there are many ways artists get inspiration and find ways to comment on society. It is believed that one of the main events that influenced this film, it's development, and the attention it received when released had to do with the Vietnam War, especially the television footage of the war. The Vietnam War was the first war that was televised. This brought the horror of war into the homes of Americans. People could see villages being burned, children being murdered, and their own soldiers being brought home in body bags. This type of brutality being seen everyday and everywhere in the United States may have very well impacted Wes Craven 's decisions when writing and directing The Last House on the Left. 

Overall, I love this movie and I love Wes Craven. I think both Wes Craven and The Last House on the Left are more than meets the eye. There is so much to be said about his depth in writing as well as his effect on American cinema, especially in the horror genre. Some people may think his is overrated, but I think he is underrated. Wes Craven is a creative genius full of witt, aggression, good humor, tenacity, and definitely stands out. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next!

On a side note, A Ghouls Best Friend is celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Last House on the Left with a 40% off coupon! You can save 40% off your entire purchase with the code: THELASTHOUSEONTHELEFT. This offer will expire August 31st, so take advantage while you can! Use the coupon code at checkout!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wicked Wednesdays

A Ghouls Best Friend presents the launch of Wicked Wednesdays! Every Wednesday three different items in my shop will be marked down to half off of their original prices for 24 whole hours! To find out which items are part of the Wicked Wednesday promotion you can check my Facebook Page, check my Twitter Page, or type "Wicked Wednesday Sale" into the search bar on Etsy's Site. These deal are not posted until midnight and are only on sale for 24 hours, so take advantage while you can!