Monday, July 25, 2016

Creating Little Clay Houses

Beth S Macre on Etsy

Little Clay Houses
I have been making little clay houses for 8 years. I sell them on Etsy and in local arts and craft shows. Although I am not the only artist that makes little clay houses, there are not many, that I know of. There are others that sell them on Etsy (that are very cute), but I feel like mine are unique to those. Not to say that mine are better than others. Just made differently. As with anything creative that you sell, you need to make your product stand out from the rest.

The Creative Process
Occasionally people ask how to make something like my tiles or my houses. All I can say to that is to explain what materials I use (see my list below) and suggest that they buy some supplies and start creating. I took high school art and a ceramics class in college that taught me the basics of working with clay. The rest I taught myself. When I see something that I like, I do the research about the process and develop my own process and try to make mine unique from the other works that I admire. All artists, makers, and small business entrepreneurs should be doing the same. Find what you love to do and add your ideas to make it your own. You shouldn't take one person's idea and copy it. But you can make something that has been created before and make it original. Add your own ideas to it. Do some online research to see what is being done in your medium. Don't copy. We have seen how plagiarism has gotten some people into hot water lately. Plagiarism is not just about copying words. An artist owns copyright to their own original creations just as a writer does.

I will happily tell you what kind of supplies I use and where I purchase them. What I will not tell you is a step by step process of making my little clay houses. For one, they are all different. They are all one of a kind, but I do add, to each one, something to make them unique to my work. That would be something that you will want to come up with for your own work. You would not want someone else to use your design, use your words, or use your ideas. So make your work original. Make it obvious that it is your creation. I have spent the last 8 years working on my designs and learning what works and what doesn't through trial and error. It is an ongoing process to come up with new ideas. I keep a sketchbook to jot down my ideas and work them out later.

What can you do to make your work stand apart
from another artist?

How can you be authentic with your own art?

Supplies I Use
Low fire white earthenware
  - I buy it locally from a shop owner that is about a mile from my house. But I used to purchase it through
Variety of Ceramic tools
 - I purchased my tools through Blick, several years ago. These tools last a long time. A good variety of wooden tools and carving tools would be a good start for a beginner.
Canvas cloth covered board
 - I used cotton canvas that I stapled to a piece of 1/2 inch plywood.
Small Kiln (for small work)
 - I purchased mine online, from
Variety of Low Fire Glazes
 - I use Mayco Stroke and Coat (shown in the photo) They can be purchased online also. I have purchased from Blick, but they only sell the Pint size bottles and the 2 oz. bottles in sets. I like to order from Clay-King or The Ceramic Shop for the 8 oz. bottles and 2 oz. sizes for testing new colors.
Watercolor/Acrylic type paintbrushes
  - I use a variety of styles of watercolor and acrylic brushes to apply glaze. You just need to experiment with a variety of styles and sizes to see what works best.

The supplies that I use are pretty basic supplies, except for the kiln. A kiln is not something that you would just go out and purchase without making sure that that is something that you really want to do.

So if you do not have a kiln, then you will need to find someone or some organization that does have access to one. I will talk more about my kiln in a later post. I wrote a little about the kiln in this post: My Little Kiln.

Until next time, have a wonderful week!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Custom Clay Tiles

A couple of weeks ago I shared a sneak peak of a clay tile that I was working on. The tile and it's two companion tiles were almost ready to ship to their new home. Well, they were shipped and have been received by their new owner, so I can share them with you all this week!

"Whimsical Perfection"
I received a sweet email from my customer that ordered the tiles and she was excited about the tiles! She described them as 'whimsical perfection'!

The three tiles that I created were made for a customer who loves my whimsical style! She wanted one tile to look like her house and other 2 to be whimsical, similar to some of the other tiles that I have created. She had some ideas for colors that she liked, but other than that, she left me to be creative with the rest.

The Process
I thought I would share pictures of the completed tiles and a few process photos. The process takes several weeks to complete, from start to finish.

~Once I decide on a photo and details, I begin by creating the tile out of clay.
~Then I cut pieces of clay to layer together to create a relief image of the
house, adding the landscaping around it. I have to make sure each layer is pressed together carefully to avoid separation caused by trapped air bubbles.
~After the image is complete, the tile must dry slowly. I cover it loosely with plastic. If it dries too quickly, it will warp.
~When it is bone dry, it goes into the kiln to be fired.
~After it is fired once, it is then painted with glaze and then fired a second time.
~Then it is complete!

I make these tiles with a hole in the back so that they can be hung on the wall or they can be displayed on an easel, as pictured in the first photo collage. To order a custom tile, contact me for more information. Contact Me

 Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, July 1, 2016

My Etsy Journey - Eight Years

First sale on Etsy in 2008
My first sale on Etsy was June 27 of 2008. I sold a few things on Ebay before discovering Etsy. But once I found Etsy, I stopped selling on Ebay. It took a month or so before I made my first sale, but I was very excited to sell this Pink Flamingo ACEO in colored pencil. It was purchased by a customer in Greece! Not only was this my first Etsy sale, it was an International sale!
I'm surprised that I sold anything back then. I did zero marketing. But back then...way back in 2008...Etsy was much smaller, Facebook was still pretty new and much less evolved. Instagram was not invented yet. But somehow, I was found by at least a few people.

From Fish to Houses of the Whimsical Variety

Textured Tiles
One of the first things that I created and sold on eBay, back in 2007, was a clay tile. I'm not sure why, but fish was my common theme back then. (Actually Fish and Baseballs. But that is another story.) You can read about that first tile here: First Clay Tile. And another set of 2 tiles here: Fish Tiles. And a textured colored pencil drawing here: Two Fish in Colored Pencil. There were others but I'll leave it there. You get the idea. And you can certainly go back and read more about them, if you like.

Whimsical Houses
As I said, in 2008, I opened my first Etsy shop. It was slow going. Etsy was new and I was teaching full time and working on a few things in my free time. My first sale was the Flamingo ACEO, but my 2nd sale, a couple of weeks later, was a custom tile. I had one of my fish tiles listed and another Etsy seller saw it and approached me about creating a custom tile for her. She wanted a tile with her two dogs, as shown in the photos she sent to me. The dogs were on the front porch of her house. So I created this tile (in the photo). You can read more about it here, First House Tile. I really liked how it turned out, so I made more house tiles. A few sold here and there. I was also doing some custom home illustrations in pen and ink at the time. Houses were often the subject of much of my art. But I decided that I needed another type of house to add to the mix. I decided to open a second Etsy shop for my clay works and leave the first for my pen and ink illustrations (I eventually combined them again in the new shop). I had seen some freestanding crooked houses in an Art Education magazine. They were houses and they were whimsical. So I decided to try to make my own version of little whimsical houses. I saw some little tiny houses online, but I wanted mine to have their own unique brand. So I decided to add little hearts to the front, just under the roofline. I decided to call them HeartHomes.

Name Change from HeartHomes to Beth S Macre

Fast forward to 2016 and many whimsical tiles and whimsical houses later, I am still selling them on Etsy. I am still creating the HeartHome line, but I have recently changed the name of my Etsy shop from HeartHomes to Beth S Macre. With all the new social media platforms that I have started using, I wanted everything to be the same to make it easier for my customers to find everything. And my name covers everything I create, not just the HeartHomes.
Here is a link to my shop: 
Beth S Macre Studio

Only in the last year have I really started to market myself. Marketing is not my specialty. I am always learning. But sales have really started to pick up since November of 2015, so I guess I am doing something right. I have also expanded my line of works to include lace textured bowls, ornaments, and some custom bowls, custom houses, and custom name tags. I will share more about these items in the near future.

I just finished another set of custom tiles for a customer. (See a portion of it in the photo to the right.) Next week I will post photos of the results of that custom order. I'll post a link here, when I get it posted. (Update: Link to Tiles)

I have enjoyed my 8 years on Etsy. I have seen many changes on Etsy, in a positive way. I hope that my little shop will continue to grow! As things change, I will too. You must continually learn and grow along with everyone else.

Soon I will be sharing some photos of my HeartHomes and how they have evolved. I have plans for new and exciting things to come and I hope you will come back and see what I am up to!

Thank you for stopping by! 

Garden Markers for the Creative Gardener

Ceramic Plant Markers Plant markers are a fun way to decorate your garden and to mark your new or existing garden plants. I've s...