Things are coming into focus on the website finally.. (hopefully)
Got up at the regular time and shook off most of the too busy mind thoughts and dreams. I think in this time of pandemic and uncertainty, it is not unusual to have a racing mind.
I was thinking about when we first opened the little shop in Charleston,SC back in 1990 – We visualized an interesting place – full of our handmade band saw boxes and hand cut puzzles.. We found a storefront but the landlady wanted toys. We liked the place so we dropped our vision and shifted into our version of hers.
Fast forward through the 90s, losing our workshop in 2000 to a fire, moving from Charleston to western NC.. the past 20 years have been full.. We settled into having a studio/gallery and doing a little online.. We have passed through a lot of doors over these past years. We survived. in a sometimes not perfect environment.
Throughout the past 50 or so years that Phil & I have partnered and collaborated in the design and execution of our work – we have faced challenges.. health, financial, disaster.. but we have always found a path forward..
Because we are where we are, we are continuing to keep the doors to our studio/gallery closed. We wear our masks, we wash our hands, we socially distance.
It has been one of the greatest challenges that we personally have faced.. We cannot shift to art shows – there are none. There are some markets, but they are far away. So, we are faced with shifting our focus online.
Having puzzles made for us to sell – by a company – is something new for us. It is kind of thrilling to do something brand new. As an introductory, we are offering free domestic shipping on the boxed puzzles through the end of the month.
We surely hope you like them and feel comfortable ordering from us on this site.
We have been working on our puzzle project since March.
The studio/gallery remains closed to the public (unless they ask to come in and wear a mask) since March 7.
We have been diligently working on getting lined up for online sales.
New for us is having our images printed in a puzzle format. It took a little cajoling, but Elisabeth and Nathan did finally agree. We may get the first four puzzles in as soon as tomorrow.
Additionally, we are still making our furniture puzzle, cat puzzles, train puzzles, and other three dimensional puzzles to order.
I don’t know how many remember, but we did handmade, hand-cut wooden puzzles back in the 90s. We are working that out again – Martha’s scroll saw was lost to the fire in 2000, but she has been working out an alternative.
She tried to make an antique that was gifted to us in 2008 work, but there are no parts available. We are still working on that saw to get it functional.
Then we found a nice looking saw on Craig’s list – and felt lucky to get it (Excalibur original). It is a good size but has a terrible vibration issue. so it is on hold.
Monday we got delivery of a very small, inexpensive WEN scroll saw. We will be working on it this afternoon.
In the meantime, we are working out the listings for the new boxed puzzles.. They are made by a British company that has a base in Canada and the USA. The puzzles themselves are made in Taiwan.
This is a beginning and beginnings take a long time
Do you know how it is when you don’t clean your house every day?? How things pile up in a corner and when you finally notice, it is a pain to put stuff in order again?
Well, that is how our web site is .. I spent the last two days getting things in order.. still not done, but almost. Any progress is good.
I am reminded of the answer to the old riddle, “How do you eat an elephant?”
“One bite at a time”
I am actually pleased with my progress.. I am working in the evening on some carved wooden hair forks to list soon..
I know this is short. but know that you are important. If we all try to keep inside as much as possible and wear our masks; wipe stuff down. then hopefully we will be done with this pandemic sooner rather than later.
I am glad children are home with their parents.. I am sad that many are facing a loss of income because their jobs are gone temporarily. I feel it is much more important to stay healthy and take care of our neighbors than squabble about the politics of it.
It is our reality now. Take care and stay sheltered.
I am not going to write much today. I am working mostly offline at the moment. I have some masks to make for the family.
I don’t want to sound negative, but this whole uprooting of our business is pretty challenging.
Over the years, we have made a lot of different things for our gallery. It has worked for us because we really enjoy what we do – making things.. and we are grateful that people like our work enough to purchase and give as gifts and allow us to live and create.
I seriously doubt we are very different from most designer/craftspeople – we are skilled artisans.
I was on a forum about 15 years ago that was made up of ACC artisans. I got some blowback because Phil & I (and Elisabeth) do our own work. We don’t have employees.. and we do the hard stuff as well as the “fun” stuff. I was told by more than one that I was wasting my time doing the “grunge” work.
Well, maybe they had a point. I don’t mind work. I am not “better” than any part of what we make.
But here is where we are right now.
Over the past 40 some odd years, we have developed quite a few categories (some might call them “lines”) of “product”..
Elisabeth works in glass, metal, gemstones, paints, knits, and more – making cards, jewelry, textiles, .. I could go on.
Nathan makes prints, cards, art pendants as well as doing a full schedule of photo-shoots of all kinds – from formal weddings to headshots. (He is currently working on a COVID 19 inspired project of which is growing by leaps and bounds.
So, my point is that I am trying to put all this online in a cohesive manner as we shift our “business” from the brick and mortar to online only.
Additionally, in the Baerreis family tradition, we are researching new ideas for new products in the print field.. which is intense.
I am sorry I am slow.. I wish I were ten people. and maybe those folks, my peers from the American Craft Council forum were right – I should have learned to delegate ..
I like to think I am efficient. Maybe somewhat capable.
This morning I had a slow start. I slept late, did not get up until 7am. Then I sat on the sofa for a bit before breakfast.
My partner, Phil, (he is a morning person – always bright and ready to go) brought me fresh black coffee as we settled into making a list for the day. I am not a morning person, so coffee helps. I don’t drink as much of it as I used to.. but two cups and I am ready
I felt tired today. You know, we just don’t know the future. Never did.. but now, even the simplest, most predictable things are not for sure.
We don’t have to open the gallery. It is closed.
We don’t have to make new things for the gallery. It is closed.
This is our habit… our livelihood.
We are really fortunate that we are able to stay busy. God knows there is not enough time in a day or a year to do everything we have on the “big list”..
Today I worked on the jewelry and put a couple of box listings up.
Phil & I are makers. I feel like I don’t get enough done – but I know this (this website) is probably our future marketplace. We are investing our time in it. ..
I made a lentil soup that was really decent last night – had it for lunch today..
lentils, chicken broth, mixed vegetables.. We ate it with our collard greens and the flavors were quite delicious.
Going home now to the apartment to figure out the next meal.. assembled from the leftovers in the fridge.
We don’t always take a photo and make a listing of each piece that we make. We sometimes just enter it into inventory at the Ipad without a photo and with minimal description.
That works well when we are open, but it means a lot of tedious checking to see what is photographed and what isn’t.
Today I spent the majority of the day going through SOME of Elisabeth’s beaded earrings. I justified the listings on her pages, so now the ones that show as available to ship are there. That is roughly one-third of the earrings.
You see, everything we make is one of a kind.. Sure, we may make a puzzle box in general shape from maple or ash or padouk, but that box is really one of one.
When Elisabeth fashions her beaded earrings, she may use a Czech fire-polished bead or a Swarovski crystal briolette in a certain color, but the accent bead is not the same. Maybe she is using sterling silver to wire the beads..and then the next pair may utilize fine copper wire..
So, you see, every pair of earrings is essentially one of one.
So today, I sorted through a small bit of jewelry that is made and actually photographed. Tomorrow, I will start photographing the jewelry and sun catchers and beaded stars and then list them on the web site.
You know, we make a lot of different things.. A few years back – maybe 2008 or so – we looked around and saw all this “art”.. drawings, photos, paintings.. and we figured, “We need to get these out there..” We began to make pocket mirrors, magnets, pin back buttons – small inexpensive gift items.. We think of them as “accessible” art..
Moving forward, we started putting a few online on our website, Amazon, and Etsy, as well as various other venues we no longer use.. I seriously doubt we will ever get all of them listed.. but we will always have a few. We label them with our ArtsyFlash (a little flash of art) logo.
We have original images sourced from our paintings, woodcut prints, doodles, photos and digital art.. and sometimes found items.. that we make into collages or from ephemera and antique stamps and stuff.
We hope you enjoy these and keep them in mind for Mother’s Day, little memories of the southern Appalachians, or accessories for your evening bag.. They also make great bridge party favors, Christmas stocking stuffers, locker mirrors, and when a person is bed-ridden and needs a small mirror to “freshen-up” these work well for that, too.
We always have a selection made up at the Gallery – and we can do custom, too.. just use the contact page and we will work it out with you.
So, we have been closed for over five weeks now To say it is a ride is an understatement.
Today is Nathan’s birthday so I will make him a little cake to share.. His “Shelter in Place” project is keeping him very busy. We are all excited for him..
Today I think I will focus on listing some of our handmade kitchen items.. I have always cooked for a lot of reasons – mostly because Phil has diabetes and needs a controlled healthy diet.. but also because we have always cooked and I guess we are used to what we eat.. It is one thing that has remained stable (sort of ) in these times.
We design and make functional tools for the cook from hardwoods. We eat a lot of salad, so we make salad servers. This style is a customer favorite that we have been making for about 25 years from mostly domestic hardwoods like cherry (shown) or maple, ash, mahogany or walnut
My favorite is our great forks which are wonderful for serving pasta as well as tossing salads.
It has been an adjustment for this old woman.. but I am finally getting that it may be my “normal” for the foreseeable future.
We rarely eat away from home. My cooking regimen is pretty cut and dried – I cook ahead and then make quick meals from items that I prepared ahead. I don’t like to eat the same thing every day so we do components that can be cooked ahead and put together in different meals..
One thing I try to keep on hand is stock or bone broth.
I make stock from chicken bones mostly.. I put it in my crockpot and let it go for a couple of days.. just the broth – I add vegetable offal (carrot tops, celery bottoms, green bean stems and seeds – cabbage cores, onion tops..) I don’t throw those things away, but they go into the crockpot for stock. I add a little splash of vinegar to extract as much of the calcium from the bones as possible.
When the broth is ready (and the bones are softened) I strain it into a big gallon Tupperware container, cool it and put it in the fridge.
It is the basis for many quick meals.. –
I make beans as well – I don’t season them, just clean and wash the dry beans, then into the crockpot they go for 8 to 12 hours or overnight. Beans are so versatile.. and just a few go a long way..
I currently have a big mess of collards and cabbage in my refrigerator.
For breakfast, I put a couple of servings of collards in the frypan along with a little of what we call “pot liquor” the goodness of the broth from cooking the greens. I push them to the side around the edges of the pan and drop a bit of butter in the middle. Crack the eggs into the butter then turn the heat down to medium-low and put a lid on it for a couple of minutes while the toast is browning in the toaster. Cook the eggs as you like them – softer is my favorite, a little medium is Phil’s. Serve with buttered toast – collards and eggs make the best breakfast ever. I guess I should take a photo to show how good they are. I use my large wood spatula to serve them..
Elisabeth has made more sun catchers and beaded earrings. Today is her birthday – What a remarkable woman she is. We are fortunate that our family works together. Gonna make a little cake to celebrate..
We are so grateful for you, our customer, and are doing our best to adapt to the new normal here in Western North Carolina.
The gallery has been closed to the public for about six weeks now. To say it has been an experience is, to put it mildly, an understatement.
We, like so many in our world today, are facing challenges like never before. We are socially distancing, and working either from home or from our workshop or office (where the computer is).
We don’t know what the future holds concerning re-opening the shop to the public, but we are committed to making and filling orders.
We make and use hand sanitizer from 151 proof grain alcohol and organic aloe vera gel from South Texas. We are sanitizing everything, making and wearing masks when we go out. We are not shopping at all in grocery stores.
As craftsmen, we have to plan for winter as sales are few and far between during the first few months of the year. so we stock up on stuff. That has held us well. lots of beans, rice, lettuce, and greens growing in pots at the apartment…. growing sprouts. This is the first time in our lives that we have considered food may be an issue in the future. I dug into our big freezer and found 20 pounds of soybeans as well as about that much in pintos, plus adzuki beans, black beans, and small red chili beans.
We are doing some things differently. For instance, we eat from a bowl mostly.. either soups or greens with beans.. or greens with beans and soup. Creative cooking. I am using up things that have hidden in the back of the pantry.. all the bits and pieces.
We bake our bread, make tortillas (corn and flour). It is all tasty and good and amazing.
We have had some issues with moods. I mean, after all.. we have gone to the workshop, then opened the gallery from 10 AM to 5:30 PM then back to the workshop to finish up for five to seven days a week since the late 80s. Before that, we mostly did art shows and markets which allowed for creative downtime and puttering.
Now, we are finding our bio-rhythms again – not so tied to the clock. We are now six weeks into the non-schedule. As craftspeople, we are such a small business that we don’t qualify for bail-outs.. and that is ok, as we chose a pretty independent existence.. we could never in a million years have prepared for what is a complete shutdown. So, we move forward.
We are trying to focus online now. We are not computer people and it seems that it takes a lot of time to do the simplest thing.
Our goal is to get all of our finished work on this website. Finished work ready to ship. We also continue to do special made-to-order items in kitchenware and hair accessories.