Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Another Spring in New Bern





We never tire of our adopted town. We will have been in New Bern for 25 years the end of May and April is my favorite month. The first year we missed the beautiful spring flowers and were blown away the following year when we saw them all.

I'm sure along the way a few of these will become paintings!

- Jan Francoeur

Sunday, April 13, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 26 Our New Space

31 Days of Thanks Day 26

Not really having any experience or education in business, everything we've learned has been by doing, so we listen to advice and read everything we can.

One of the guys (John) we were buying radio advertising from (his retirement job) said that he had a business of his own for 30+ but the only reason he was able to retire was because he owned his real estate. We had tried to purchase a building in downtown 7 years before but the price and the appraisal did not match up, of course this was when our Downtown did not look like it does today. His comment got us thinking about it again in 2001.

The old Chinese restaurant/Metropolitan Club had been gutted (the peoples plan for it never got it off the ground) and sitting empty for a couple years. It was way bigger than we needed but the downstaris would be perfect for us.

Yes it looked a little scary but its a great space.

We were told that the people we were renting from needed the building we were in so we really needed to find a new place for Carolina Creations.

The people wanted way more than the going rate, it would need A LOT of money to renovate. So we started talking to a local architect about buying the place together. While trying to come to an agreement on the price, we met a neighbor on the sidewalk (Charles) and he said "you ought to buy that building", we said we were trying to but they wanted too much money and we weren't getting anywhere. He said "Make them an offer and say it's good until the end of the month."  So that's what we did, and they took the offer!


But then we lost the guy who was going to go in with us who would know how to develop the building into a commercial condo, which we knew nothing about.

While we were panicking wondering what to do another friend said go talk to M. Which we did.

Whew!! Yes he was interested so we bought the building together, we made it into a commercial condo, we own 1/3 he owns 2/3, and here we are 11 years later. It was a good move for us and, like with our last location, as our space grew so did our business.

We love our space!

Thank you John, Charles, Dan, Marvin for planting the seeds and helping us see them grow.

- Jan Francoeur


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hand blown glass at Carolina Creations

We always have a large selection of hand blown glass but right now we have even more!!

Just got new from Bernie, Michael Hudson, Paul Bendzunas, Brenda Griffith, Glass Eye, Ingrid Hanson.

http://www.carolinacreationsnewbern.com/NewFiles/bendzunas.php 

http://www.carolinacreationsnewbern.com/NewFiles/h%20and%20k.php 




http://www.carolinacreationsnewbern.com/NewFiles/berni-north-glass.php 
Glass blowing is an amazing art and we're honored to represent these accomplished glass blowers at Carolina Creations!!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 25 CRAFT

31 Days of Thanks Day 25

In 1998 we joined an organization that totally changed our business. We joined the CRAFT Retailers Association and met other gallery owners from across the country.

We had never before had anyone to talk to about our business who really understood the challenges of running a gallery featuring hand crafted items, made in the USA working with artists, and so on.
Craft Retailers & Artist for Tomorrow


    


Through the years these folks have become like family. We see each other as much as 5 or 6 times a year (unfortunately more than I see my own family). I ended up on the board of the organization and converse with one of the people I met through CRAFT every week on one issue or the other 16 years later.

Our group started a week long celebration throughout the US celebrating American Craft. This will be it's 5th year. It's called American Craft Week.
                                       
Our group presents educational workshops at shows across the country. I've done presentations on blogging and other topics, as well as set on panels addressing issues we all have running a gallery.

I helped set up our organizations website, wrote a monthly newsletter, and so on.

We would share artists with each other, be available to assist with issues, share rooms at shows.

I got a nice award from the group for my contributions.



So thank you to Sandra, Anna, Karen, David, Anne, Diane, Donna, Don, Deb, Laurie, Rani, Bob, for your ideas, commaradry, encouragement, selfless sharing, lending a shoulder, and everything else. You have all helped us make Carolina Creations better.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Love Oxide Pottery

This winter we met Joe Monk, Chatham Monk, and Justin Rice and just loved their work!

Their technique is called scraffito. Joe, Chatham and Justin work with porcelain. When the piece is leather hard they coat it with several coats of velvet underglaze then carve away everything they want to leave white.



http://www.carolinacreationsnewbern.com/NewFiles/oxide-land-plt-lrg.php
http://www.carolinacreationsnewbern.com/NewFiles/oxide-plate-small-palm.php
http://www.carolinacreationsnewbern.com/NewFiles/oxide-land-plt-sml.php
http://www.carolinacreationsnewbern.com/NewFiles/oxide-plate-small-leaf.php
They fire the pieces then apply a clear glaze and fire again.
Our pieces are all wired to be hung but they can also sit on the table, food safe.


http://www.carolinacreationsnewbern.com/NewFiles/oxide-critters.php

Sunday, March 30, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 24 out on our own renting space

31 Days of Thanks Day 24 out on our own renting space

Once Michael and I started doing pottery we quickly outgrew our space and when it was time to renew our lease on Middle Street we decided we needed to move into our own space.

It was a little scary for us, our rent increased by ten fold and we would have to hire employees, yikes!!

I remember running into my friend Bruce on the street and told him what we were doing, he said "what if it doesn't work out?" I said "there is no plan B" and kept walking.

As it turned out we didn't need a plan B.

We started carrying other peoples work as well as our own. Our thought was build a business that we can sell someday when its time to retire. If it was only our work and we were no longer in the picture there would be nothing to sell.

Most of the other shops like ours took things on consignment, we started purchasing fine crafts from other professional artists. Just like most retail businesses do. That way we could control the quality of the work we carried.

When we started looking for a new space we were thinking about buying. At the time real estate in our Downtown was not a good bet according to the banks we talked to. (boy things have changed!) They said the properties were over priced. I heard about a space becoming available on Pollock Street. So called Lonnie and said I wanted to see it.

He said someone else was coming from Swansboro to look at it that afternoon. But he would show it to me. Michael was somewhere, don't remember where, and this was before cell phones. When I saw it I said right away, "we'll take it". He said he would rather rent to us because we had a track record, than the unknown people in Swansboro.

So we rented it in August but did not move until after Christmas. It gave us time to get enough art to fill it, to revamp it, and transition.

I felt like we were stepping off a cliff but it was a good move! We evolved and grew.

I always felt like that was one of our strengths, keep evolving and tweeking, while keeping our core the same.

Who am I thanking here? All the people who supported us and followed us around the corner!

- Jan Francoeur


Sunday, March 23, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 23 Clay Sculpture

31 Days of Thanks Day 23 Insight into who has influenced us, our art, and our business throughout the years.

My friend and whimsical sculptor extraoridnairre Justine invited me to work with her one day. I found that I love sculpting!


I haven't had a lot of time to do it unfortunately so haven't come up with a consistent style but some day.....


Another person that encouraged me to do it is Steve Fabrico, he's the guy who did the big totem sculpture over by the Double Tree. We carry his work at Carolina Creations and I had the pleasure of going to his studio in NY and seeing how he works. Just to cement what I learned in my brain I made this sculpture which is at the corner of our driveway. Its about 5 feet tall.


Every person you work with contributes another piece to the puzzle.



I did this piece after watching Peter King work. He does amazing architectural pieces, fireplace surrounds, gates and more. This piece is quite large, 4 x 5' and hangs outside the door of our house.

And lastly I was inspired to start doing these wall hangings after seeing something on the internet. Unfortunately I can't say where it came from. I think it was on an interior design site so can't give anyone credit. Of course mine looks nothing like theirs but it got my wheels turning.


So thank you Justine, Steve, Peter and Unknown person!

-Jan Francoeur


Thursday, March 20, 2014

New Paintings by Janet Dixon

We always thrilled when we get new work from our artists.

New Bern artist Janet Dixon has just brought in some great ones!

Janet has traditionally painted in watercolor but has been working in oils the past couple of years. She does a beautiful job in both!
Click on image for details - will open in a new window







 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

31 Days of Thanks Day 20 I Would Like to Help

31 Days of Thanks Insight into who has influenced us, our art, and our business throughout the years.

One day while making tiles Michael said I'd like to help!

So he started helping me roll the tiles.

Then I said why don't you learn how to throw? He said I think I will.

So he took a class from Elizabeth Priddy then Steve Jepson, and off he went!


Our first series of functional pottery was fruits and vegetables, a spin off of the tiles.

I don't have many photos of that work, although I do still do it occasionally.

Michael would throw the pieces, I would decorate and glaze, Michael would load the kilns.

We started with one medium size kiln and now have 4!

Through the years our styles and themes have evolved.



Sometimes I hand build pieces and decorate them with New Bern themes. Our pieces have been awarded to dignitaries from Europe and Africa, mayors, aldermen, County commissioners and so on!


Sometimes gardens and a house are my theme. Earlier in this series I talked about my calligraphy, well it has really come in handy on our pottery too.

Some of the words I put on our pieces are my own words, some are famous quotes.


One day a customer named Martha said "My niece is getting married would you put their names and date on a piece? Ding!!  Since then I've personalized hundreds of pieces with bridal, anniversary, retirement, etc dates and names.

Again the inspiration and idea for these came from our customers, Martha and others, and my friend Cecelia.

- Jan Francoeur

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Handcrafted pottery by Leo and Karin Villaroman








It was a partnership of two individuals from both ends of the world that created this pottery.  In September of 1992 in a small apartment kitchen in Atlanta a potter's studio was born.  The wheel was inside the bedroom.  Karin would wake up early to pick leaves from the garden from which Leo would make moulds.  The base of the pots are rolled on a basket texture, then shapes are formed and thrown on the wheel. The pieces are all decorated with leaves or shells and sea life.  All the pottery is oven, dishwasher and food safe.


What a wonderful addition to our pottery collection. And with so many folks with beach houses we KNOW it is going to be a big hit.


For the details on each piece click here.