Friday, August 31, 2012

Why Fair Trade

Occasionally we purchase something that is made overseas. One of the main things is felted wool items. We've been told it is just not economically feasible to make them in the US and the artists that design them can't produce enough in their own studios to make a living. I often wonder why instead of going to Nepal the artists don't go to Appalacia and work with some of the people there. 

I've been told that when you choose to purchase Fair Trade products, you are endorsing an economic system that provides opportunities for producers to lift themselves out of poverty. Fair Trade provides assurances to consumers that producers are paid fair prices for their products and labor. It gives them more direct market access which removes many of the “middle-men” who traditionally have absorbed the majority of the profits. In addition, Fair Trade provides a set of requirements that assure consumers that strict standards have been met to protect the environment, build economic sustainability, empower women, and allow opportunities for education, poverty alleviation, and health care.

Fair Trade looks to create tremendous, positive, and long-term impact for artisans and farmers while delivering great products to the public.

When consumers choose high quality and affordable products that are Fair Trade Certified or sold by members of the Fair Trade Federation, children’s school fees are paid; nutritional needs are met; health care costs are covered; the poor – especially women – are empowered; the environmental impact of production, sourcing, and transport is mitigated to the fullest extent possible; and, much more. Such an impact is created, because Fair Trade approaches development as a holistic process.

I emailed the Fair Trade Federation and got an informative email back from the Executive Director. I asked about working with marginalized US citizens rather than going overseas. Here is her response.

"You are correct in observing that the term "fair trade" is most often used in reference to economically and socially marginalized artistans and farmers in developing countries.  These producers face extreme poverty, most often in geographic isolation, as well as a lack of access to North American markets. At the Fair Trade Federation, we find that the challenges and issues faced by producers in the developing world are often different than those faced by producers in North America.  Therefore, we find it beneficial to focus our efforts on international economic development. "

Here are the Fair Trade products we have coming in over the next few months.

Love these cute tooth fairy pouches!!
Felted Bird houses - Birds can use these felted bird houses in more ways than one. If they don't choose to nest inside they can pull at the wool for material to feather their own nests. Made with sustainably harvested materials such as sheep wool, and features a braided natural hemp hanging cord and bamboo perch. The 100% hand felted wool nest is weather resistant. Rain will naturally shed from the wool, and if it gets wet it will also naturally dry.

The entrance hole is sized just right for wrens and chickadees at 1-1/4”, but can be cut slightly larger for other species such as bluebirds, swallows and flickers. We ship the house lightly stuffed with removable paper shred to maintain shape, which can be easily removed as desired. As the house weathers the wool will eventually break down and birds can use the old house to line their new nests elsewhere.

Carefully hand crafted by a Fair Trade artisan group these houses are traditionally handfelted with natural woolen fibers. Made with renewable and recyclable material. Environmentally friendly, non-toxic, azo-free dyes.

These unique birdhouses are both decorative and functional. They not only can be used as a nesting roost outdoors, but can also serve as a fun decor piece indoors. They make wonderful gifts for the backyard bird lover!

We have a lot of cute designs.

Here are some beautiful felted bags that are coming as well.

Our main mission at Carolina Creations is to bring exciting hand crafted items to our customers and to help the creators make a living doing something they love. We feel fortunate that we've been able to so this for the past 23 years. Thank you for your support!

Janet Francoeur

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Another great recycled product made in the Carolinas

My friend Donna came home from a trip telling me about these candles and then I got to meet the guys that make them in NY and loved them!

I also loved their story. Several young men were working at a restaurant and were disturbed by how many bottles went to the landfill every day. They started taking them home, cutting them, and making candles they then sold in the restaurant. Everyone that saw them wanted them! After much encouragement they started selling to other shops, and now to Carolina Creations.

Their candle is made from soy and the bottles hold 11 oz. Each fragrance is inspired by their favorite wine varieties like -
Chardonnay - Vanilla, Butter, Oak, and Light Floral Notes  
Cabernet - Black Cherry, Currant, Smoke, Burnt Toast 
Champagne - White Grape, Honey, Fresh Baked Bread, Light Citrus 
Merlot - Ripe Pomegranite, Plum, Vanilla, and Violet 
Pinot Grigio - Sandalwood, Wet Stone, and Light Citrus 
Pinot Noir - Fig, Cranberry, Leather, and Earth *Best Seller* 
Riesling - Bright Citrus, Tropical Fruit, and Asian Pear 
Sauvignon Blanc - Fresh Mown Grass, Basil, Mint, and Grapefruit 

$28 each.

 To order online click here!


Monday, August 27, 2012

New Frames Look Great on StoryPeople Prints

We've known Ralph for many years. Used to see him at shows, and you know how it is, out of sight out of mind. I always intended to have some of his work at Carolina Creations but just never got around to it until now.

I was reminded of his work last winter when we were in Florida. His frames look fabulous on our StoryPeople prints. We've been carrying Brian Andreas StoryPeople for about 8 or 9 years. So a couple weeks ago I called Ralph and told him it was about time to get some pieces from him and we would start with the frames.

Ralph has been designing and building furniture art since 1988. His pieces have been designed to blend a whimsical, creative look with utility. 

Based on traditional forms—such as Shaker, early Texas, Spanish, Colonial and Country French—and embellished with his vivid imagination, his handmade frames are functional works of art. 

Made of Ponderosa pine, they include unusual features such as innovative textures, playful illustrations, interesting borders, and bright colors. 

Each piece is painted and adorned by hand and varies slightly for a one-of-a-kind effect. Ralph is proud to run an earth friendly company, all products are finished with water base paints and lacquers, and they use all possible scrap pieces with virtually no waste. 

Ralph learned early the values of hard work and doing the job right.  As a boy, he was hauling hay, working the family garden, or building fences; as a young man, he worked cattle on ranches and was a rodeo bull-dogger. From an early age, Ralph loved to build things, such as tree houses, animal cages, and Christmas gifts. Then, as now, he used whatever materials he could easily find or afford - on a "shoestring" budget. settled down long enough to earn a degree in Building Construction from Texas State Technical Institute. 

Not only can these be used as frames but they make fabulous mirrors as well available at Carolina Creations!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Home from the Big City

I go to a show, usually twice a year, in NYC.

A five day business trip without a little fun would be too much, so always try to take a 1/2 day to look around. One trip I did the High Line, another all the galleries in Chelsea, another took the double decker, another went to Zabars and the Museum of Art and Design.

This year got up early and did Tai Chi in Bryant Park at 7:30 then went to the East Village to see The Mosaic Man's pieces.

Long story short.

    Jim Power started the “mosaic trail” labor day weekend in 1988, and has immortalized New York’s rich history through his captivating street art. It features(ed) 80 light poles covered in mosaic tile, ceramics, glass, and mirror paying tribute to the history and the people of New York. The trail runs along 8th Street from Broadway, through Astor place, across Cooper Square in front of cooper union and St. Marks place, from third Ave to Avenue A, down Avenue A to 4th Street, up 4th Street to bowery and back to the cube on 8th street. A typical pole can be made up of more then a thousand tiles, displaying a myriad of vibrantly colorful and intricately placed mosaics which are often themed.
   Posted in front of the once and now legendary premier concert venue, The Fillmore East on 6th street at 2nd Ave is an awe-striking pole. This particular pole was made in commemoration of Bill Graham and all the bands that performed there such as, “The Grateful Dead,” “The Allman Brothers Band,” “Pink Floyd,” ”The Band,” and “Black Sabbath” to name a few. A tribute on another pole on the south east corner of second Ave and St Marks is to our great country and another is right in between third Ave and forth street which you will see highlights many great speakers that spoke at cooper union, and last but not least is another to the police and fire department at Astor place.
    Jim was authorized by DOT to continue to build and maintain the light-poles that were destroyed by the anti-graffiti force in 1995, but has never received funding for the project. Due to his love and passion for his community and the arts, Jim has managed throughout the years to build and up-keep these historical landmarks on his own.

Loved seeing these mosaics. One day when I have time I want to do some mosaics myself. I love the ones on South Street in Philadelphia by Isaiah Zagar too and have blogged about those before.

Too much I want to do, too little time.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Andree Richmond Ceramic Sculptor

Andree Richmond

Artist Statement

Technology and the current economic system move us at breakneck speed separating us from our natural rhythms. Wooing us onto wheels to travel too fast to nourish our soul and sense of humor. My work is about my struggle for balance.
Making of the Wheeled Animals

The wheeled animals start their life as two bowls, made by pinching a ball of clay thinner until it becomes a hollow shape, which varies depending on which animal I am creating. The body of the animals are made by joining the two shapes(bowls) together and they are paddled into shape. I then roll and attach lengths of clay to the body for legs. While these are drying, I start modelling the neck and head. I usually work in sets of three. 

Going back to the body- legs I attach the axles for the wheels and carve the animal's form from original the rough shape, when the body is complete I go back to the neck-head and scult the details, then attach it to the body. 

Finally I sponge the entire piece to make it smooth for painting (this I believe is where the erroneous notion that my pieces are slipcast arose) The animal is then allowed to dry and is fired. After washing the piece to remove any dust from the first firing, I paint the decoration with underglaze, brush glaze on top and refire. 

The wheels are then attached and the piece is complete. 

Why the lids? I have always been partial to tins, boxes and secret compartments. I like the added complexity that an opening to the inside gives the piece. The best story I have heard for the lids, was given by a young boy to his mother, "that's were you put the gas in."

We are pleased to be able to represent New Bern artist Andree at Carolina Creations!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ocracoke Followup

Its always amazing  to me how different the state of North Carolina is from the Outer Banks to the mountains.

We have lived in some beautiful places, the State of Michigan, the mountains of Colorado, the Florida Keys.

But I don't think any other place has the diversity of the State of North Carolina.

The Outer Banks reminds me of the Keys, the Piedmont of Michigan, and the mountains of the foot hills of Colorado.

Our trip to Ocracoke was enjoyable, we rode our bikes, visited some of our artists and sat at Silver Lake and watched the sunset.

I came away with no ideas to paint but with a rested mind, away from the computer and the every day pressures.

Now back to work!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Wanderlust and Finding my Muse

I've had wanderlust my whole life, like I said in a previous post, it probably came from my Dad, always going for a ride, looking for something new and never being afraid to go down a road that looked like it was going to peter out after a mile or so.

So last week when I was doing some work on the computer at Carolina Creations I emailed Michael and said - want to go to Ocracoke for a couple days - sure - the answer came back immediately.

Now I will have to say Michael doesn't have the wanderlust bug like I do, but he'll pretty much go along if I make the plans.

Another reason I need to wander is to get inspiration to paint and create. Just driving and having images zip by clears my head.

Sometime I see things I want to paint, other times it's just getting out of my normal routine that does the trick.

Sometimes it's hard to identify what inspires me.

We've lived in North Carolina since 1989 and have been to Ocracoke about 5 times. 

What I think of when I look back at those trips
     isolation - driving up the island to the Hatteras ferry seeing nothing but sand and ocean for 12 miles and the miles of marsh you drive through before you even get to the ferry at Cedar Island
     woods - how can such a small island have a woods?
     scale - I feel most comfortable when I am in place that isn't too big and has has boundaries (Key West, Downtown New Bern, the Roaring Fork Valley in Colorado) Ocracoke
     beauty - love looking at Silver Lake, watching the ferry come in, seeing the sailboats, the flowers, the fences
     quirky - Howards Pub, the British Cemetery

After returning from each of those trips I did paintings.

Of the light house
Chairs and boats

We'll see what inspiration I get this time.

I'll let you know.

Jan Francoeur


Thursday, August 02, 2012

New Bern Tea Towel

It's time for a new version of my New Bern Tea Towel. How it starts    ----   figure out the size it needs to be and what buildings i want to include.

Then quickly sketch it out.

Draw it a couple times.
Finished product!

I think this type of thing is really my favorite thing to do.

I've designed ornaments, tiles, magnets, coasters, mugs, and on and on. I've done pieces for the Convention Center, Tryon Palace, the Pepsi Store, City of New Bern, Craven County and numerous other businesses. And of course LOTS for Carolina Creations!

Cotton, made in the USA, $12.95.

Purchasing Information click here!!

Jan Francoeur