FLOOF Collage pARTy! Art Maker-Paks

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FLOOF Collage pARTy! Art Maker-Paks

I’ve probably mentioned before that my 500 sq. ft. art studio is a sublimation of hoarding, since I can’t pass up anything I find that could be used to make art. It’s very well organized, though, with most of the floor-to-ceiling bins sorted by color.

When I have a party or an individual or small group session in FLOOF, the kids or adults are given a basket and invited to pull whatever they want from whatever bin appeals, and put the items in their basket, or at their chosen place at the table. They often don’t use everything they chose, so many baskets are left with remaining items.

I often don’t have time to re-sort the treasures into their color bin, so I developed a system of crates called “Miscellaneous Madness”, which contain random items of every color, size, shape and material. At some point, after 9 years in business, I had a half-dozen of these crates filled with an assortment of 80% recycled materials. What to do?

With summer approaching, in 2017, I decided to sign up as a vendor at a couple of weekly farmer’s markets nearby. I picked two with low or no fees, in rural, scenic neighborhoods. Freeville, NY’s market takes place right in front of their elementary school, under a huge, delightful shade tree. Brooktondale, NY’s location is a sheltered pavilion with picnic tables and a building next door where a free swap is held all summer. Each market also sold vegetables, maple syrup, baked goods, and other crafts. I was in good company.

Each cellophane pack contained a mixture of sizes, shades and textures of things I had taken apart – electronics, shoes, pianos, jewelry, calendar photos, clocks, hardware – you name it! I wrote a very vague “Instructions for Use” card to enclose in each Maker-Pak, not wanting to make specific suggestions that might limit the user’s creativity in any way. To me, there is no right or wrong in art – just whatever is in the heart, mind and soul of the maker.

I made up the packages in 5 sizes: 1 oz. Mini-paks, 2 oz., 3 oz, 6 oz. Midi-paks, and 10 oz, Mega-paks. No two were alike. For me, part of the fun was cruising my shop, opening bins and sorting through containers to find just the right objects to meet the color and texture variation I wanted, while filling the weight requirement.

My goal for this winter is to get these Maker-Paks on Etsy and see how they go. Keep your eyes open! Art Maker-Pak

 

Mass-Produced FLOOF

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Mass-Produced FLOOF

I’ve been making little goodie bags for years, as party favors, or for customers to buy when they want to be creative at home. They’re perfect for a spontaneous session when the client doesn’t have time to accumulate the materials for a project. I call them Art Maker-Paks and I’ve dubbed the contents “Miscellaneous Madness”.

My Art Maker-Paks come in 6 sizes now – 1, 2, 4, 6, 10 and 16 ounces. Each has an instruction card inside with some ideas on how to use the contents of the Pak. I purposely keep the wording vague, because I don’t want to limit anyone’s imagination by making specific suggestions about what to make or how to construct anything.

To fill an Art Maker-Pak, I walk around my studio and pull from the 50 plastic drawers filled to the brim with 80% upcycled and repurposed materials, mostly sorted by color. After 10 years, I now have a few bins that are entirely “Miscellaneous Madness”. Those have resulted when I’ve had a pARTy! in the studio and haven’t had time to resort the guests’ choices into their respective color bins.

With COVID-19 restrictions, I haven’t been able to open my shop for parties. My studio could probably safely fit me and maybe 2 other art-makers 6 feet apart, but it would be a scramble to keep social distance because the space is narrow and we’d all be crossing back and forth between the bins on both sides and the glue gun at the far end. It would be difficult to safely choreograph the dance.

So instead, I’ve been selling Art Maker-Paks on Etsy and locally, and donating a lot to various local charities and nonprofits. I never had to make more than 6 bags at a time to keep my inventory up. Recently, though, I was asked to make thirty-six 3-ounce bags for one customer. Now I needed to assemble a large number of bags efficiently.

“Wow”, I thought, “I guess it’s time to figure out how to do mass production!” So I set to work trying to invent a system. Step 1: pop open 36 bags. Step 2: punch holes in 36 business cards. Step 3: Cut 36 pieces of ribbon. Step 4: Write, print and cut 36 instruction cards

The bags are cellophane and rather floppy until they are about half full of fun stuff. I figured I needed 36 containers of some sort to support the bags until they could stand up with the weight and shape of their contents. I viewed the containers like parents to my little bags – they would hug them until they matured and could stand on their own.

Looking around my studio, I came up with 24 cardboard fruit boxes – 12 large and 12 small. You know – the ones that carry cherry tomatoes, strawberries, and other fruit at your local farmers market. Then I found some small galvanized buckets, Asian food containers, and flower pots. Voila! 36 spiffy containers to cradle my Art Maker-Paks.

Then came the process of filling the bags. After a few attempts to drop one of each item in 36 bags, I decided I needed to set up a way to grab 4 or 5 things at a time to make the pace go faster. For this project, it didn’t matter if all the bags were almost alike. None of the recipients would ever see any of the other 35 bags. That made my work a little easier.

The question was: Did I have 36 of enough items to fill a 3-ounce bag? With a little creative spark on my part, I found a few things I could cut up into 36 pieces. For the rest I used multiples of some of my favorite items I had been gathering for years: puzzle pieces, hardware, little toys, colored paper, fancy office supplies, shells, rocks, beads, machine parts and electronic bits. Plink, plunk, plop. Part of the trick was to make sure none of the contents of the bag obscured the instruction card.

Things seemed to go slowly at first. I’d think I had about a quarter of what I needed, and then I would realize that feathers and cotton balls weigh nothing, although they do fill up space. When the bags seemed half-full, I’d weigh them on my Salton scale, and sigh because I’d vastly underestimated how far I had to go. But as the bags began to be self-supporting, the process seemed to go faster, and before I knew it, I was right at the 3-ounce mark.

Next step in the mass-production was to pull the plastic strip covering the tape off each bag and stick it shut. Then punch a hole in each bag. Then came the part that tried my patience – getting a skinny ribbon to go through a double-sided hole in a cellophane bag. Finally it dawned on me that I could use an awl to push the ribbon through. Whew! Problem solved. Meltdown avoided.

Once I had all the ribbons nicely threaded through the hole, time to attach the business card and tie 36 tiny bows. Thank goodness I had just given myself a pedicure that day but had run out of time before giving myself a manicure. I think if I had not had long fingernails I would have driven myself crazy tying those ribbons.

Fortunately, I just happened to have the perfect wooden fruit crate for carting the bags off to my customer. I didn’t know it at the time, but 18 bags fit in the bottom, and 18 perched safely on the top, peeking just over the lip of the crate. I can’t wait to see her face tomorrow when she sees them. FLOOF Mass-Production for the win!

Grief Camp for Youth -Hospicare

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Grief Camp for Youth -Hospicare

I’ll be providing 6 oz. Art Maker-Paks for kids and/or the adults supporting kids who are grieving a loss.

https://www.facebook.com/events/2646819728871760

Here’s the letter from the Bereavement Team at Hospicare:
Online Grief Camp for Youth with Hospicare

Join us for a week of healing and connection! Grief Camp 2020 will focus on supporting youth who are grieving the death of a loved one, as well as their caregivers. Grief Camp is free and takes place July 20-24. All activities begin at 10am and last for 30-60 minutes. Activities include crafting, story hour, discussion, and circus arts. Please join us for some or all of our activities and offerings!

Throughout the week, Hospicare is offering individual, private consultation sessions with parents, guardians and caregivers of children and teens. These sessions will focus on how to best support your child through the grieving process and can be scheduled after registration.

Grief Camp is presented by Hospicare & Palliative Care Services in collaboration with local practitioners. Camp is free and open to all. Classes and webinars will be on Zoom. Links will be provided upon registration, which is required. For more information or to register call 607-272-0212 or email bereavement@hospicare.org

Monday, July 20, 10:00-10:15am
Grief Camp Opening Session with Laura
Laura Ward, Manager of Psychosocial Services welcomes all to Grief Camp and describes what is happening throughout the week. Laura will introduce the book Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children, by Bryan Mellonie. All participants in Grief Camp will get a complimentary copy of the book. In addition, Laura will also provide instructions for families about how to engage in our Grief Camp art project which is taking place in collaboration with FLOOF Collage pARTy Art Making. Instructions for pick-up of art project supplies and copies of Lifetimes will be provided in the comments. Video will be posted on YouTube and available afterwards.

Raising Money for Hospicare

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Until August 8th, I will be selling my Art Maker Paks with all profits going toward the virtual Women Swimmin’ event, the 17th annual and 1st virtual.

My two largest Art Maker Paks – 10 oz. and 16 oz.

I have worked for Hospicare as a per diem nurse, and have had personal experiences with the loss of my late husband and other family members as clients. It is an amazing organization which provides resources, care and bereavement counseling for families needing hospice care.

To donate to the Ithaca virtual event, Go the Distance with me and help me reach my goal:

https://www.p2p.onecause.com/women-swimmin-for-hospicare/corinne-stern

Hospicare and I thank you for your support! #womenswimminforhospicare

Welcome to Where the Magic Happens

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Welcome to Where the Magic Happens

This is the front door of my art-making studio. For a peek inside, see https://www.facebook.com/FLOOFCollagepARTy/videos/711812692899487.

 

FLOOF Collage pARTy! Adventures on Etsy

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While my shop had to close due to COVID-19, I saw an opportunity to help families at home. Whether they were participating in distance learning or not, everyone needed something fun to do, something unique and something healing. Something to ward off boredom, something to do with your hands instead of your mind.

What better way to spark creativity and engage in an activity they’d never done before than to make art with recycled materials! I have been selling my Art Maker Paks for a couple of years now, mostly at Farmer’s Markets or as party favors when someone has a birthday or other party at my studio.

For years I’ve been thinking of getting back on Etsy. In 2006, I had been making Yarmulkes (Kippot) for Jewish women for a few years and had made hundreds by then. They also were sold as Renaissance Hats or hats for weddings, horse races, and other religious practice. I had an Etsy account and sold a few.

Etsy has changed a lot since then. I was uncertain about whether it would be a good idea, but fellow artists encouraged me to try it. There were many steps to follow, and with all the other things going on in my life, it took a month to get my account up and running.

I waited patiently, keeping busy with other things. Then I was rewarded with a sale to a homeschooling Montessori teacher who wanted small Art Maker Paks for her child and large ones for the school she planned to open in the Fall. I sent a few to friends and relatives as surprise treasure hunt gifts, since I had a bit of a mass assembly process going in my studio.

The next step was to conquer shipping. The USPS Click and Ship option turned out to be easier than I thought. I happened to have some leftover printable shipping labels from 15 years ago which were, surprisingly, still good. So I was off and running, as was my postal carrier, who has a tiny hike from my street up my driveway and onto my porch, grabbing packages from my little purple bistro table, which I can conveniently tuck under my overhang if the weather is questionable.

I’m hoping to get some referrals from my new Etsy client, and every time I have a Zoom chat with a friend, I mention my Etsy shop. Who knows where networking will take me? You can check it out yourself at https://www.etsy.com/shop/FLOOFCollagepARTy. Happy Arting!



FLOOF Maker-Paks are now on Etsy!

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FLOOF Maker-Paks are now on Etsy!

After years of talking about wanting to sell on Etsy, I’ve done it! My Etsy shop is up. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve decided it’s not so fun to schlep a car-load of materials around to Farmers Markets near Ithaca twice a week,

I’m not techno-phobic, but I’m a bit dyslexic and a lot ADD, so anything involving reading instructions and following a logical order of procedures is a challenge for me. I’m still not sure if I’ve left some essential feature out. Counting on the admins to let me know, I guess.

I’d welcome feedback from anyone already selling on Etsy or anyone who is confused when they go to my shop. All my shipping supplies are ready to go. Actually, I hate wrapping boxes, but maybe I can whine enough that my husband will agree to do that part. LOL.

Have your own art-making party without having to gather your supplies. Just get them from me! I’ve listed 5 sizes, and customers can also order specific configurations of supplies, such as all wood, all fancy papers, all one color, or all natural materials. Looking forward to hearing from my WordPress fans.

Reinventing Myself as a Maker

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Reinventing Myself as a Maker

For 10 years before opening FLOOF Collage pARTy!, I was a maker of multi-media art objects. Mostly I was a milliner, but sometimes I made home decor and costumes. I restored and decorated vintage lampshades, made masks, trivets, treasure boxes and assemblage for wall decor. Holidays, parades and plays called for elaborate disguises. My hats were Yarmulkes (Kippot) for Jewish women, but once my imagination ignited, some of them quickly morphed into Renaissance Hats or Fascinators in the style fashionable in the UK at the time.

Once FCp! opened to the public, I was too busy to make any art myself. I became mostly a facilitator, teacher, guide, muse, inspiration, and brush-washer. Around that time, I was also being a Grandma to 7 grandkids, from babies to teens. I now have 8, and my oldest grandson is 29!

Recently, my Muslim friends asked me to participate in “A Taste of Muslim Culture”, an event in Ithaca to showcase Muslim cuisine from 13 countries, and to raise money for the planned build of a mosque in my neighborhood. The Muslim Community has been meeting in various buildings at Cornell University and rented halls or other places of worship around town. Their rented office building barely had room for a dozen folks to pray or hold classes.

I was eager to help out, so I started making upcycled brooches to fasten the hijabs that I sold, and scarf rings to fasten them at the neck if desired. The event was fabulous – delicious food, lovely and inspiring music and adorable kids admiring my work. I managed to raise almost $50 to donate to the mosque project.

Now I am on a roll to make more “product”. I will be fashioning more Kippot and more pins. This month I will be making a special unique fantasy hat for a retiring Rabbi’s wife to celebrate the family’s retirement, containing memorabilia suggestive of her many life roles.

As I grow older, I look forward to more stimulating and engaging projects to keep my mind sharp and my fingers nimble. My imagination is limitless, and my sense of adventure continues to push me forward. Look out, world!