Monday, July 30, 2012

Flagrant Self Promotion

I had a conversation with Susan Moffet-Thomas, Director of Swiss Bear Development Corporation, and she asked me to send her our story so she could put it on her Swiss Bear Blog.

Here is a copy of what I wrote!

Jan and Michael Francoeur set off on an adventure shortly after their marriage in 1982. Michael accepted a job in Aspen, Colorado and off they went. Jan had been working in commercial art for many years and attending art fairs on the weekends. She attended shows like  the Toledo Art Museum May Show, the Spring Show at Crosley Gardens, shows in Charlevoix, Adrian, Bay City, Midland, Saugatuck, and was a featured artist on the ArtTrain.

After moving to Aspen she worked in the Art Dept of the award winning Aspen Times and began her freelance career doing architectural renderings. After six years in the mountains their adventure continued as they traveled through the southern tier of states and settled in the Florida Keys, for a time, where they started looking for a new home. Their criteria included a place that "was on it's way but hasn't gotten there yet", on the water, a beautiful setting, interesting architecture and an interest in the arts. They wrote to every likely looking place in North and South Carolina and after a casual conversation with one of their neighbors in the Keys, New Bern was added to the list.

Their inquiries resulted in different responses from the areas they wrote to, some no response and others more. "New Bern filled our mail box up!". After reading about the Chamber of Commerce, the Craven Arts Council, Swiss Bear and the Tourist Assn (this was before the TDA was established) New Bern was the one that most piqued their curiosity. They arrived in 1989 in a motor home and soon traded it in on a boat. They were the 2nd boat at the newly constructed Ramada Inn (now BridgePointe) Marina, where they lived for 3 years.

Michael started a marine repair business and Jan worked at various part-time jobs and opened a studio on Middle Street in the old Albert Hotel.

She began drawing and painting New Bern. Eventually Michael closed his business and joined Jan at Carolina Creations.

They purchased a home in the historic district in 1992 and renovated it and after renting a space for Carolina Creations for 14 years they purchased their current location in 2002 (the former Chinese Restaurant and before that The Metropolitan Club). Partnering with MBF architects they renovated the building and turned it into a commercial condominium.

Jan continued to expand her art business and became interested in doing ceramic tiles as well. After a short time Michael joined her and began making pottery himself.

Early on Jan was awarded "Entrepreneur of the Year" and through the years many other awards including Niche Magazines Top 100 American Craft Galleries in the US followed by Top 25 American Craft Galleries. Each year since 2005 Carolina Creations has been awarded "Best Place to Buy Art and Sculpture" and "Best Place to Buy Gifts" in New Bern by Sun Journal readers and an Emerging Artists Grant from the Craven County Arts Council and the NC Arts Council.

In addition to their own work, Carolina Creations, represents 300 local, regional and nationally known artists. Other local artists represented include Lou Plummer, Tim Rader, Sally Sutton, Mary Page Whitley, Andree Richmond, Mike Rooney, Shirley Erikkeson and many others.

The gallery is well known for its high quality offerings, and Jan and Michaels work. Each year since 1995 Jan has designed and produced a New Bern Christmas ornament, some of the New Bern scenes depicted include the New Bern Skyline, Tryon Palace and Tryon Palace Gates, the New Bern Flag, City Hall, Craven County Court House and others. This years ornament will be the Bank of the Arts with a portion of each sale going to the Council toward their renovations.

She creates a New Bern Christmas card each year and is the poster artist for the Historic Home Tour.

Their "Celebration Pottery" is popular as gifts for weddings, anniversaries and just about any occasion.

The Francoeur's built a new home on a vacant lot in the historic district in 2007 contributing to the ever evolving New Bern skyline. It has been said that in 30 years their home will be a "contributing structure" in the district.

Great promoters of New Bern's Downtown they have served on the Swiss Bear Board, Chamber of Commerce Board, Chairman of the Downtown Christmas Committee, and have been active in the Downtown Council of the New Bern Chamber of Commerce.  Jan is the creator and administrator of the Downtown New Bern Facebook Page and Blog where she promotes anything going on in our Downtown.

Jan says "Our Downtown today has become what we envisioned when we arrived here in 1989!"


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

New Work from North Carolina Potters Sheila and Paul Ray at Carolina Creations

We have been representing artists from New Bern and across the state and country since 1989. As everyone knows, North Carolina is well known for our pottery tradition so pottery has always been a big part of our gallery. 
We met Paul and Sheila several years ago and fell in love with their work and have been representing them ever since. Here's what they have to say about their work.
"Our goal is to enhance the celebration of daily life and enrich it's simple joys. There is an intimate connection between human hands when we use pots, a shared moment that often seems increasingly absent in our lives."

All of the pottery produced by Ray Pottery is handmade by the husband and wife team of Paul and Sheila Ray. It is either thrown on a potter's wheel, slab built or extruded. It is then fired in a propane fueled kiln to 2350 degrees Fahrenheit. Glazes are applied by a combination of dipping and spraying. Two of the stoneware glazes we use most commonly are:

Ash Glaze - Known for their subtle colors and mottled surface effects, ash glazes were some of the first glazes to be formulated by ancient Chinese potters. We use pine and oak ashes, collected from a wood burning kiln.

Copper Red - Copper red is achieved by adding a small amount of copper carbonate (usually .25% to .5%) along with tin oxide to a glaze and then firing it in a reducing atmosphere. Copper reds were first developed by Chinese potters over 1000 years ago and are still commonly referred to as "oxblood" glazes.

To see more of their beautiful pottery click here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

New Berns secret spots

I love New Bern for many things. One of them is how beautiful our town is. But to really see it you have to slow down. We have lived in Downtown New Bern since 1989 and every year I get out and take photos. And every year there is something new to see.... or maybe they've always been there and we zoomed by too fast to notice.
Steel heron sculptures in a pocket park on the Neuse
A sweet Victorian cottage sits behind a house near Tryon Palace
Along the waterfront

Know where this is?

1st installment!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A customer writes about crafts and Carolina Creations

Crafts have always been a part of the history of our country. Pottery making, basket weaving, furniture, as well as glass blowing and metal crafting were born out of necessity; today our fascination with and love of crafts reflect our appreciation of the artistry that goes into creating an object of beauty.
Crafts take on many forms, from painting a piece of pottery or making a piece of jewelry to works of art that took years of training and application to produce. From a child’s handprint in plaster of Paris made in nursery school to the most intricate piece of art, they all reflect the heart and hand of the creator.
 My husband and I have lived in many states during his military career and have visited several foreign countries. We have accumulated boxes of pictures of these various sites, but nothing stirs the memory like a craft purchased there. The painting of birch trees from a street fair in San Francisco still graces our dining room wall.   On display are a piece of pottery from Washington State, an angel carving from Salem, MA, and a painting of the beach near our last home on Long Beach Island, NJ. A series of watercolors from a Russian artist who spent ten years in the Gulag under Stalin brings back memories of the artist who, in spite of the many hardships he faced, painted beautiful scenes of his native city in the Ural Mountains. A sparkling bunch of glass grapes from Murano, a carved cross from the Black Forest in Germany, and a carved chest brought back from China, remind us more than any photograph of the beauty of those countries.
A desire for a retirement community led us to New Bern. We frequently stayed “in town” on our house building visits. Those stays always included strolls through town, browsing through the many shops. We never missed looking in the enticing windows of Carolina Creations, our favorite spot.  During one visit, I spied this beautiful mirror, framed with a mosaic of jewel toned glass.  How I loved that mirror! But I hesitated, knowing we were in the midst of house building. Several weeks later, on a return trip, the mirror was no longer there. “Well”, I thought, “I had my chance”.  Of course we went inside and there was the mirror on the back wall.  The next day, my husband shows up with a wrapped package containing…the beautiful mirror! 
Carolina Creations has such an amazing collection of crafts that it seems more like a gallery. I continue to find  unique gifts for family and friends; glazed goblets for my sister’s new home, evening purse for my New York friend of over 60 years, a Sticks carved wooden plaque for a granddaughter, a piece of jewelry for my sister- in -law. My friend, who writes an environmental awareness column for the local newspaper, was having a birthday. What better gift than a basket made from chopsticks and cocktail napkins made from recycled paper? I have been known to gift myself. I couldn’t resist a whimsical metal lizard that now is propped against a window in the Carolina Room, gazing out into the garden, much to the amusement of friends. A bronze butterfly of beads, twigs, and leaves on hand made paper by Kathleen Masters hangs above a painted piece of papyrus, brought back from Egypt by our daughter and son-in-law; different works of art on hand made paper from countries on opposite sides of the earth.
If North Carolina in general, and New Bern’s Craven Arts Festival, Art Walks and Carolina Creations in particular are any indication, crafts in the United States are alive and well. It is heartening to know that the love of hand made pieces of art will always be with us. There may be trends that come and go and economic ups and downs but, like our beautiful mirror, love of artistry will win out.

Thank you so much Joan!!
from all of us at Carolina Creations

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Writing a Journal

We have some beautiful journals at Carolina Creations! As a child I had the typical diary with a lock  and key. I don't know what ever happened to it! Doubt that the reading was too interesting. 
When Michael and I got married I just started writing down highlights of our life in a note book, who got married, who died, what we did on a particular holiday. Then about the time we moved to New Bern, 1989, I went back through all those notes and filled in the blanks in a bound journal. We had gotten married and moved to Aspen and had quite an adventure there so wanted to write it all down so I wouldn't forget. Since then I've been writing pretty regularly. 
This blog is like a journal too but more about Carolina Creations and more visual than my personal journals.
If you want to start writing a journal what do you write about?
I write about 
- good things that happen to us, and bad
- people who come to visit
- illnesses we get.
- books I read and liked
- quotes I find inspiring
- where we go on holidays and our vacations
- make lists of projects I want to do 
- and pie in the sky dreams like spend a year traveling in Europe

- dreams I have - have to write them down as soon as I wake up or I'll forget
- a list of my goals and then I check them off when finished.
At Carolina Creations we have dozens of kinds of journals - they range from beautiful to funny, large to small, perfect bound and spiral bound and on and on.
 I just pulled a few off the spinner to show you.

This last one is a thin journal with only about 40 pages. I take a journal like this on a trip so it's a dedicated journal.

I find myself often saying, where does the time go? I pick up my journal and read back through, oh yeah, now I remember!

Jan Francoeur

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

ArtWalk July 13 2012

We were pleased that Sally Sutton's painting Summer Poppies was chosen for the ArtWalk post card. We have represented Sally for many years at Carolina Creations.

Her show is at Carolina Creations through August 31.

Click here to see more of Sally's paintings!

Stop in and see all of Sally's new work! Her show looks beautiful.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Backsplash retrospective

Through the years I've done several back splashes. Here are photos of a few of them! Sometimes they are just a section of the back splash surrounded by white tiles, other times it has been the entire back splash.

This is sections of the one I did when we lived at 205 Pollock.

There are some more parts of it I don't seem to have, like City Hall, the Fountain in James Reed Lane, and some other land marks.

This vegetable panel measures 12" x 36" and is the only one I currently have available.

In our new house, the tiles have been made for 3 years.... they are still sitting in our pottery.... you've heard about the cobblers kids...

Will post a photo when I finally get them done!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

On Buying Art

This was written by Rebekah Joy Plett -

We have the best customers in the world that understand wheat goes into making a piece of art, then we get some people in that are NOT our customers and don't understand.

I think about the equipment it takes to blow glass. To set up a basic glass blowing hot shop it costs about $40,000 for just the equipment. And that's just the equipment not the materials, the time and failures to learn then develop a piece then eventually a style. So when we hear from the people not our customers "Maude this piece of glass costs $50 do you believe it?" we think to ourselves "yes what a deal it is!!"

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Our Carolina Creations Bags Travel the World

Latvia national theater in Riga

And you know where this is!!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Neat to see one of my paintings on a book on Amazon

...even if I don't like some of their business practices. Didn't realize we were out of them so so be restocked in a couple days. We've sold 200 of these books!