I applied to become an Indiana Artisan last spring. I worked hard. Filled out the paperwork. Delivered nice pieces. I didn’t get juried in.
I had a few nice conversations with some folks involved. They were very encouraging. I’ve completed the paperless paperwork and everything is in order.
I’ve copied the important questions and my answers below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
*Medium worked in:
The medium listed here should be illustrated later in this application with images. This medium and the uploaded images should match.
I carve and paint small mounted sculptures of Indiana birds in the tradition of the state’s early Pennsylvania-German settlers.
*Price range for which your art wholesales:
Provide detail that explains different prices for different pieces. If cost difference is based on size, weight, time invested, materials, etc., explain what impacts different ranges in your pricing. If you do not sell your work at wholesale, and especially if you are not willing to sell your work at wholesale, please state that in the box below.
Wholesale prices for standard pieces (Single birds 5″ – 7″) are $45 – $60. Larger pieces (involving multiple birds [mounted together] of the same size) are $90 – $250.
Pricing is determined by a standard time and materials formula with slight adjustments for size, detail and/or demand. Prices for smaller birds are adjusted slightly towards lower end of the scale. Pricing for intricately painted birds and larger birds are adjusted slightly higher end of the scale.
Each piece is signed and dated by the artist and is accompanied by a distinctive letterpress tag with specific information, including a brief narrative, about the bird.
*Price range for which your art retails:
Please provide the same detail requested in the previous question.
Retail prices for standard pieces (Single birds 5″ – 7″) are $90 – $120. Larger pieces (involving multiple birds [mounted together] of the same size) are $180 – $500.
As with my wholesale pieces pricing is determined by a standard time and materials formula with slight adjustments for size, detail and/or demand. Prices for smaller birds are adjusted slightly towards lower end of the scale. Pricing for intricately painted birds and larger birds are adjusted slightly higher end of the scale.
Retail pieces are also signed and dated by the artist and are accompanied by distinctive letterpress tags with specific information about the bird.
*Please describe the process and describe the materials used in your work/product. This is your opportunity to tell your artisan story and to educate the jury panel on why your artwork should be selected, why it is unique, and why it should be part of Indiana Artisan.
I’ve a long history of pursuing traditonal arts and creating unique items from wood. Nearly two years ago I made a conscience decision draw from my Pennsylvania-German roots and to focus on carving Indiana songbirds.
When this German community moved from Southeast Pennsylvania to Indiana they brought with them their traditions for distinct handwork including woodcarving.
Since I began this project I’ve carved close to 200 birds and had opportunities to share my birds with folks through presentations, blogs, shows and sales. The people that I meet often have a strong reaction to my work and share their own stories about the birds in their lives.
I spend a great deal of time in the field and in research developing the ideas and images that will become the birds that I carve. In my studio I develop these ideas into patterns. Using these patterns I cut and carve little birds from white pine using a single knife. The birds are then painstakingly painted, finished and mounted on small pedestals using found and natural materials.
This work brings me a great deal of joy. Steady sales and a growing body of collectors indicate that customers enjoy them as well.
*Describe the design and qualities of your work. The jury panel will review 1.) whether your design satisfies the intent and function of the piece and 2.) whether the components of the design relate well to each other. These intentionally are broad areas for review so that they apply in some way to the work of every applicant. As you describe the design and qualities of your work, do your best to address these two areas.
We are all surrounded by birds all of the time. They are a part of our lives. Most people have strong associations and stories relating to the birds around us. These encounters are often fleeting and distant. Through extensive research, field work and casual study I collect the stories of our birds and from them develop small and interesting sculptures that allow us to bring these birds into our homes, hold them in our in the hands and examined them closely.
Unlike most modern carvers who strive highly detailed and accurately modelled birds, I have developed an approach to reduce a specific bird
into a simple, representational form drawing upon the traditions of early carvers and decoy makers.
My work is not only visually striking, but pieces also have a warm tactile quality that invites folks to pick them up and hold them in your hand.
*Describe the technique you use to create your work. The jury panel will review 1.) if there is evidence of skilled craftsmanship and 2.) whether, and how, the materials related to the original intent/function of the piece. Again, these intentionally are broad areas for review so they apply to in some way to the work of every applicant. As you describe the technique you use to create your work, do your best to address these two areas.
There are three phases in creating my work: design, carving and finish. Each phase is important in developing a piece that attracts the viewer emotionally, visually and tactilely.
After identifying a subject bird, design begins with a series of sketches and drawings. The goal in this process is to develop a form and a painting scheme that will convey spirit and life as well as a clear representation of the bird species. Final drawings are transferred to cardstock patterns.
Using these patterns the profiles of the piece are cut from white pine using a bandsaw. Then carving begins. Carving takes very little time and is accomplished with one simple knife. This process leaves sharp edges — facets — that are sanded and smoothed. Eyes (made of copper and brass rivets) and legs (from baling wire) are affixed.
Finish is very important in my work and requires the largest investment of time. I desire a finish that is warm and smooth and appears to have been well loved for some time. This is accomplished with a combination of traditional and modern materials. Each bird is sealed with orange shellac. This is followed by the application of one or more layers of under-painting using acrylic house paint. The bird is then painted using the color scheme developed during the planning phase. Following painting the birds are distressed in a well developed manner that mindfully reflects the condition of a piece that has been carefully handled for many generations. Each piece then receives another application of orange shellac and a final wax and buff.
During the painting phase I develop the mount for each bird. Most mounts are made from a combination of wooden disks or pedestals that incorporate the use of natural twigs and sticks. These pieces are painted and finished in the same manner as the bird sculptures.
Each piece is completed when the various components — bird (or birds), twig and base — are brought together in a way that conveys the spirit and life of the bird.
Each piece is numbered, signed, tagged, labeled and catalogued.
*Describe how your work is original and/or authentic. The jury panel will review 1.) how original your work is ? how it reflects a unique style, personal expression or interpretation, and 2.) how authentic your work is ? how it exhibits a tradition or heritage of Indiana communities and groups. These intentionally are broad areas for review so that they apply in some way to the work of every applicant. As you describe the originality/authenticity of your work, do your best to address these two areas.
When I set upon carving little birds I had two themes in mind.
I’ve been carving and building things my entire lifetime. Wooden boats, furniture and ukuleles have all been products of my labors. While I enjoy building these things I sought out little birds as a way to connect my work with my family’s ethnic traditions.
Pennsylvania-Germans have settled in Indiana since the end of the revolutionary War. My parents moved Indiana shortly before I was born. In my creative pursuits including architecture, music and luthiery I’ve always sought out the Indiana traditions, connections and practices within these disciplines.
I bring these two themes together in carving Indiana birds in the Pennsylvania-German tradition.
In order to stay focused on the traditions of my discipline I have limited my tools and materials to only those (or their modern equivalents) that were available before the 1930s. The end of the great depression seems to have marked an end to the vernacular styles of carving that I pursue.
Within these restrictions of tools and materials my work continues to develop and to grow. Without losing their folk quality that are becoming more spirited and artful.
Describe how marketable your work is. The jury panel will review 1.) the appropriateness of the product for marketing activities of Indiana Artisan, specifically whether it supports the development of the Indiana Artisan brand, 2.) whether the pricing of your work is appropriate given the markets Indiana Artisan works in and intends to work in, and 3.) whether, given those markets, Indiana Artisan believes it can help expand wholesale/retail opportunities for your work.
My carvings are about more than the birds that they represent. I’m convinced, from interactions with my audience and my own experiences, that almost everyone has a bird that that they relate to in a special way. Folks tell me that cardinals are reminders of their lost fathers or wrens of their mothers. People have told me that crows represent their own spirit. My artwork provides people with a way to hold that bird and memory in their hand, share it with other people and display it on the mantlepiece.
In the last 18 months I’ve produced close to 200 birds. Through art shows, consignment, retail sales and online sales I’ve consistently sold work at the prices I desire. While I focus on Indiana birds I’ve sold work to folks across the United States. My online presence and collector base continues to grow. There is no reason to doubt that with continued effort this trend will not continue.
* All artwork is one-of-a-kind, but describe why you believe your artwork is original and how it reinforces an overall brand of quality work created by an Indiana Artisan.
Drawing from the Pennsylvania-German traditions and focusing Indiana songbirds I have developed a consistent style of carvings that is unique. It has been my intention, from the beginning, to develop a style of work that represents Indiana songbirds and traditions.