10th Annual Blacksmith Art & Music Festival

10th Annual Blacksmith Art & Music Festival Saturday, September 28th, 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 

Experience the ancient art of blacksmithing! Family art activities, music, arts & crafts, vendors, food and more.

 

Today we attended the 10th Annual Blacksmith Art & Music Festival at Riverfront Park in downtown Fitchburg, Massachusetts...and it was such a great time I HAD to write a post about it!

We got there early to set up our RusticCraft tables and tent...so we got to see all the blacksmith equipment being unloaded and set-up---heavy stuff! The Junior ROTC was there for the day being INCREDIBLY helpful--unloading our vehicle and all our supplies/ tables/ tent---and even setting them up for us---A+ Gals and Guys.

The Blacksmithing started by heating up all their coals in the early morning....SMOKE everywhere! I had a hankering for s'mores kinda immensely.

There was live music...many huge art murals by Revival Gallery in Fitchburg...there were many Arts and Crafts vendors....A fancy Rolls Royce...A hydroponic garden setup and solar panel setup...felted wool soaps and natural dyed yarns, handcrafted natural soaps, many options for jewelry, hand blended spice combinations, hand felted wool ladies purses...natural honey....chair massage....even handcrafted wood wands!

We visited all the food vendors....YUM.Chaibo from Fitchburg has some AMAZING Gelato.....Pizza from Zedas...and a really amazing Steak Insanewich from SuperFans. MMM

The Live Forge-In Blacksmithing competition seemed fierce....and like a close race from afar.....they made some amazing stuff during the day! Doors Handles, Candle Holders, Toilet Paper Holders.....and in really different designs. There were also all kinds of cool stuff they must have made in previous years available.

We appreciate so much having the opportunity to be a part of this awesome tradition! Can't wait til next year! =)

Check out our pics of the event below! Click on the pics to enlarge.

Links:

Organizers:

Fitchburg Art Museum: http://www.fitchburgartmuseum.org/BAMF.php

Achla Designs: http://www.achla.com/

Fitchburg Cultural Council: http://www.mass-culture.org/Fitchburg

Central Massachusetts Art & Agriculture Coalition: http://www.fitchburgfarmersmarket.com/

 

Vendors and Exhibitors... that I could find links to =)

RusticCraft Designs: http://rusticcraftdesigns.com/

Revival Gallery, 713 Main Street, Fitchburg MA: https://www.facebook.com/RevivalGallery

Atlantic Green Energy: http://atlanticge.com/

Gerry Martel Automotive Art: http://collectorcarappraiser.com/

NuBodi Massage: http://www.christopherbenoit.com/

Rollstone Studios: http://rollstoneartists.com/

Soapy Green: http://www.soapygreen.com/

Chaibo: http://chaibo.com/

SuperFans Deli: http://superfansdeli.com/

Zedas Pizza: http://www.zedaspizza.net/

Handmadeartists.com Review

This review is intended to be the first in a series of handmade e-commerce website reviews. The plan is to research the websites and compare them against each other with comparable metrics....and in addition to that also conduct an interview of the founder/owner of the website to get their perspective. =) handmade_artist_shop_logoReview Date: March 3rd, 2013

 https://handmadeartists.com/

Interview with Kimberly Kitchen from Handmade Artists

Interview Date: March 11th, 2013

What was the inspiration to start your own eCommerce website?

We began as a forum for artists and crafters and those that love handmade who ran into the same problems on every site.  Andrew and I (Kimberly) are crafters ourselves and spent many years selling on various venues.  After listening to my complaints about what a site did or did not offer as well as competing with mass produced no matter where you go we decided that rather than complain, the solution was to build it ourselves. We did not have investors as we wanted to have total control over how the site was run and what our standards would be so it started off small but has continued to grow each and every day.

What makes your site different from Etsy? How is your site an improvement?

HandmadeArtists.com is strictly handmade only.  While we love vintage and drool over supplies as every other crafter does, we felt that handmade is special and deserved a place in the spotlight of its own.  Each and every item is to be made by the artist including the supplies.  If there is a flag of a vendor we do our best to investigate immediately and will remove them immediately if we find that they don't comply with the handmade rules.

What is your average traffic? Stats? Monthly traffic/ Daily Traffic? Traffic over time?

500k hits a day

 How do you use Social Media for exposure?

 We currently have over 150K followers on Twitter and 8596 likes on Facebook.  Each and every new item is tweeted (with the exception of the occasional glitch in the system!) and many are posted to facebook and stumbleupon.  We firmly believe that the more people that see your product the better chance of the right buyer finding you. Everyone that follows us does so by choice to get our feeds so you know that you are reaching people that appreciate handmade.

What are your plans for the future of the site?

As said before, the site is a slow grow.  We are working with a developer to update the look of the site and increase the bells and whistles that our vendors are asking for.  We listen to all suggestions and are honest with them when we say we will do it, not do it, or will consider it for the future.  We plan on staying fairly small and never grow to the size of Etsy.  Our plan is to become the Tiffany of handmade-small and exclusive with high quality so there will never be the question, "is this really handmade."

A common complaint with Etsy is their lack of Customer Service---how does your site improve upon this? If you grow to the size and scale of Etsy, how do you plan to adapt your customer service to still meet a high standard of quality?

As was said, we never plan on being the size of Etsy.  Once we reach our goal we are cutting off new vendors and will create a waiting list for each category.  As a vendor drops off, a new one from the list will move in...as far as customer service, staying small will help with this.  We currently spend a lot of time in the forums; chatting and answering questions, and our email is fully available to any member.  We also offer live support as much as we can with the help of a few key members.  You can ask a question and have an immediate answer most of the time.  If nobody is available, we are sent an email with your question and answer as quickly as possible.  Customer service is very important to us as artists as well as site owners and we are determined to maintain the standards we have set as we grow.  When we reach the point of not being able to personally answer questions or offer the type of service we feel our members deserve, then we will have to consider hiring help with this aspect of the site.

How many employees do you have?

I wish we had employees!  Currently the site is owned by Andrew and myself and we have a private developer that works for us.  Our members know us as owners and friends and hopefully understand that because it is just the two of us, sometimes we get busy!  We also have a small group of very dedicated members that have been with us since the beginning of time that have stepped up and answer forum questions or help us with live chat. Without them we would have pulled out our hair already!

What is your top selling item category (categories)? Why do you think it's (they are) so popular?

As with any handmade site, jewelry is the biggest and most popular category just because there are soooo many jewelry artists out there!  We promote all categories, but if I had to pick the one that gets the most attention that would be jewelry.

 What item categories would you like to see more of? Which categories do you think are under or over represented on your site?

We would love to have more fine arts represented, such as painting and pottery.  This type of arts are years of practice in the making of an artist and it is understandable that there would be fewer of them around.  I don't think of any of our categories as being under represented so much as the fact that we are new and some of the categories have not filled yet.  I have no doubt, based on our business model that these categories will eventually be better represented.

How does the search or browse for items on your site work? Is it based on relevancy and recently? How does SEO work for your site and how search engines will find our items?

Recency, Items have meta title, meta keywords, and meta description. Google indexes the site constantly

Is there an option for guest checkout without having to register?

Currently you must register to make a purchase.  We do not however handle any of the money, they merely register as a buyer and all money transactions are handled through PayPal.  In the future I would like to implement guest checkout as I understand that some may not wish to have to register for a site to make a purchase, but that is down the road some.

How do you ensure that items listed on your site are not mass-produced?

We currently try to watch ourselves as well as allow our members to flag shops or individual items.  Obviously we are not masters of all crafts so we use our membership as sounding boards if needed.  I am not going to decide if a pottery item is handmade myself as I am not a potter...so I go to one who is and get their opinion.  In the end, Andrew and I have the final say as to if the item is handmade or not and do a lot of research on flagged shops to determine if they meet our standard.  If they do not to our satisfaction, we contact them with our concerns.  If we find that they are not handmade then their account is closed.

What is your policy on copyright/trademark infringers?

Our policy is similar to Etsy in that whoever owns the trademark/copyright must contact us.  We would love to police this ourselves, as crafters we understand the frustration of stolen designs and ideas, but are not copyright lawyers.  As we grow we plan to enforce the law to the best of our ability and hopefully with integrity.

What additional features do you have that I haven't mentioned above?

Not so much features as ideas.  We are growing but plan to stay small and friendly.  We have had many vendors come to us from other sites expecting a fight, and when they do not get it there is a moment of shock. Andrew and I are real people with real lives, family, business of our own and understand the struggle to get found in a mass produced world.  We have taken this experience as artists and put that into HandmadeArtists.  We listen to our members and look at each idea to see if it fits in the plan.

Kimberly

www.ChainmaillByMBOI.com www.MakinTheBestOfIt.com www.HandmadeArtists.com www.ItsBetterHandmade.com

 

General Info

Founders: Kimberly and Andrew Kitchen

Email: admin@handmadeartistsshop.com

Main Office PO Box 530 Point Pleasant, NJ 08742

Employees: 2

Site Information

(via crunchbase.com)[i]

The Handmade Artists’ Shop (HAFshop) is an online marketplace devoted to buying and selling handmade goods. Artist build their own shop through an online interface that can be accessed from anywhere, as long as there is an internet connection. The venue was built for speed and ease of operation. Containing thousands of one of a kind creations the HAFshop has a mix of various styles from artists around the world. Although the venue is fairly new with their re-launch 5/18/2011 it originally started in December of 2009. The first site did not meet the needs of the owners and they went into private development to create the marketplace you see now.

The site does not allow vintage items, mass produced, or non-handmade supplies; handmade is the core of the HAFshop. This is different than other venues of its kind, by not allowing vintage and mass produced items the Handmade Artists’ Shop can focus strictly on their handmade items.

Sign up is simple on the HAFshop as it is handled around a subscription system. Vendors do not have to pay the expected listing fees or commissions that you may find in other venues. The simple monthly fee gives artisans freedom to list as many of their handmade creations as they want to.

Historical Data

  • The first information available of the website existence was August 2009---this was only a blog and ‘resource’ site at that time[ii]
  • Official Date of Founding is December 2009
  • Official Re-Launch of the website was May 18, 2011[iii]

Screenshot (3-3-13)

 Handmade Artists Snapshot 3-3-13

Products

Total Number of Items on HandmadeArtists site: 15,992

  • “Handmade” on Etsy: 13,729,208
  • .0012% of the items on Etsy

Product Type Breakdown

Jewelry: 6535 + 250 Chainmaille category HandmadeArtists: 6785

  • Etsy: 3,697,738
  • .0018% of the items on Etsy

Crochet, Knitting, and Needlecraft HandmadeArtists: 827

  • Etsy: 312,919 crochet + 176,925 knitting + 106,461 needlecraft: 596,305
  • .0014% of the items on Etsy

Alexa ratings

[iv]

US Traffic Rank: 76,796

Reputation – Sites Linking In: 676

Statistics Summary for handmadeartists.com

There are 76,796 sites with a better three-month US Alexa traffic rank than Handmadeartists.com. Compared with internet averages, the site appeals more to women; its audience also tends to consist of users browsing from home who are not college graduates, age 35-44.  The site is located in the US. The site is relatively popular among users in the cities of Kolkata (where it is ranked #26,241) and Los Angeles (#66,113), and visitors to Handmadeartists.com spend about three minutes per visit to the site and 37 seconds per pageview.

  • Percent of Site traffic from Search Engines (past 30 days): 9.1%
  • High Impact Search Queries
    • Beaded Jewelry
    • Handmade Artist
    • Wirewrap
    • Handmade
    • Guitar pick
    • Wedding
    • Horoscope
    • Picture frame
    • Hand made
    • Hand-made

Etsy Alexa Ratings:

US Traffic Rank: 52

Reputation – Sites Linking In: 248,962

Statistics Summary for etsy.com

Etsy.com has a three-month global Alexa traffic rank of 154, and the fraction of visits to this site referred by search engines is roughly 12%. The site has a bounce rate of approximately 27% (i.e., 27% of visits consist of only one pageview). Etsy.com is particularly popular among users in the cities of Seattle-Tacoma (where it is ranked #44), Dallas-Fort Worth (#49), and Los Angeles (#50). The site is based in the US.

  • Percent of Site traffic from Search Engines (past 30 days): 12.5%

Fee Structure

To sell on the HAFshop you have to be a paid subscriber. Right now there are 2 available subscription plans, one is $5.00 a month and the other is $50.00 a year.

  • They do not charge any listing fees or commissions.
  • You can list as many products as you want and they do not expire.
  • Payment from Sales is through PayPal

To compare the yearly subscription/per month price ($4.16) to Etsy

  • This is the equivalent of listing approx. 20 items per month with no sales on Etsy
  • This is the equivalent of approx. $120 worth of sales in commission fees on Etsy (3.5%)

Shop Setup

Number of registered merchants/ shops

Registered Vendors: 781

Mobile apps

There are no mobile apps available, but the website seems to be optimized for mobile internet use.

The homepage has a nice clean look to it that fits my mobile browser very nicely. Accessing items is simple on the mobile device as well.

Checkout options

Paypal

Guest Checkout

In order to purchase an item, a buyer must first register with a username, password, and email.

No Guest Checkout seems to be available at this time.

Other aspects

  • Banner: 760 pixels wide x 100 pixels high
  • A shop policies page can be set up
  • There is a profile/about me page with 1000 characters to describe yourself
  • Shop Sections—unlimited shop sections
  • You can easily link your twitter, facebook, and youtube urls to your shop. You can also add a blog badge of 125 pix by 125 pix with a link to your blog. All of these links are displayed on the lower left hand side of your shop page.
  • Vacation Mode allows you to set a beginning and ending date for placing your shop in Vacation Mode. No items will be available for sale during that time.
  • Stats are tracked through Google Analytics—no internal tracking available.
  • Simple Coupon Codes are available. You can create the code and set a percentage discount off.
  • A product can be added and then ‘re-listed’ to allow use of that entered information as a template---easing the addition of items.
  • "There is no import from etsy or ebay. We have considered an importer in the future, but are not sure if it is a smart decision. So right now the idea is tabled."
  • Products can be ‘de-activated’ without deleting by using the ‘block’ feature in the edit product page.
  • Communication between buyer and seller is through an internal Private Message system.
  • Shipping Options
    • You can set up to ship to US with a discount for additional items
    • You can set up multiple shipping profiles for similar weight items
    • You can set up shipping to individual countries or a general everywhere.

 


[i] http://www.crunchbase.com/company/handmade-artists-shop

[ii] http://web.archive.org/web/20090919025105*/http://www.handmadeartists.com/

[iii] http://www.crunchbase.com/company/handmade-artists-shop

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fitchburg Farmer's Market at the Fitchburg Art Museum

This evening was our first appearance at the Fitchburg Farmer's Market, held the First Thursday of every month (Jan-June) at the Fitchburg Art Museum. 11649495-new-fam-logo-lower-res

We got to set up our table in a room filled with ancient roman art, earthenware, marble statues and reliefs. We felt not only fortunate to be invited to attend as a vendor to this awesome event, but so fortunate just to have this amazingly incredibly scenery to set up around!

 

Since we were there selling our wares...i didn't have a ton of time to walk about...but i did manage to take a walk when the market was near it's end and snapped some photos of the other vendors!

 

 

 

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Here's us ...well...our table and nick's lower half anyways =).....live and in person. We set up our elevated pet feeders along the front of the table...had some Valentine's day theme magnets, tealight candle holders, and chalkboards set up.....but our most popular items were by far the cutting boards and cutting board waxes.

 

 

 

 

 

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Our neighbor table was Fresh Certified Organic Produce grown in the greenhouses at Charlie's Red House Farm in Winchendon, MA. They had some organic, free range chicken and duck eggs....I should have acted quicker though because they sold out before the end of the evening! I did manage to snag some nice looking red variety of Kale...my juicer will love the change from the grocery store Kale.

 

 

 

Adjacent to the Farm table was a couple selling all sorts of crochet items...little animal shaped pieces, hats, fingerless gloves, and clothing....pretty nice looking unique items!

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I love the setup of their shelving unit! Makes me want to stop and look up and down at everything...instead of quickly skimming and walking by... =)

 

 

 

 

Here's another miss....this table was set up with this amazing looking bread----and he completely sold out before the end of IMG_3145-2the evening! look at the barren table! Why did i wait?!! =)

...I did manage to snag a couple boxes of girl scout cookies (sorry no picture!)...trefoils and thin mints....classic!

 

 

 

 

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Here's a view of the main section of the museum housing the farmer's market---had an awesome guitarist....food vendors, farm vendors, and the Johnny Appleseed Visitors Center table which has a plethora of random goodies!

 

 

 

 

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Jewelry vendor up the stairs on the second floor of the museum.

 

 

 

 

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Nature Photography prints on the second floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fitchburg Farmer's Market is held the first Thursday of every month (Jan-June) from 4pm-7pm at the Fitchburg Art Museum, 25 Merriam Pkwy  Fitchburg, MA 01420

For more information, visit www.fitchburgfarmersmarket.com.

More Links:
Tuesday, January 29, 2013 Winter Farmers Market returns to Fitchburg Art Museum   (An article in the Telegram and Gazette)

 

Global Street Handmade

We are pleased to announce we have been accepted as a Sponsor Member of Global Street Handmade!

http://www.globalstreethandmade.com/

Global Street Handmade makes it easy to find authentic arts and crafts through our directory of GSH-Certified artists.

GSH-Certified artists go through a rigorous certification process to become a member of Global Street Handmade, and are passionate about their art or craft as evidenced by the quality and craftmanship they represent.

 

Engraving Examples

I just love doing custom engravings! Personalizing our cutting boards for anniversaries, weddings, and other special occasions give us such a feeling of connection---what a lovely amazing feeling! To be a part of something so special in someone's life <3  Here are some examples of our personalized designs!

To see our Serving & Cutting Boards available for engraving click HERE

 

Packaging Examples

We try to take pictures of all our hand engraved gifts and handmade packaging =) Here are some great examples of past orders... we make custom burlap bags for most our products...hand sew our custom info & care sheets....and we can always include a gift card with message or other gift wrapping as available and as requested =)  

 

Beeswax & Mineral Oil Wood Seasoning Butter Recipe

Whether chopping vegetables, cutting fruits or slicing meat, our wood cutting boards are used more than any other utensil in our kitchen!  When the prep work is done, the boards are vigorously scrubbed down in  soap and water with bristle brushes and sponges.   If your wood cutting boards are anything like ours, they are used and abused...but that’s the beauty of wood: it's durability and anti-microbial properties cannot be beat. With proper maintenance, these functional wood accessories will last for generations.   In order to preserve our wood cutting boards and butcher blocks, I season them every few weeks ....sometimes months.... or so, before they show signs of dryness or cracking.  Our preferred method helps to keep them water resistant and serves to restore their shine and luster.

We use a combination of mineral oil and beeswax butter, which is about the same consistency of regular  butter.  It’s a simple mixture (see recipe below) that can be whipped up and applied, ensuring the longevity of your cutting boards, wooden spoons, spatulas, rolling pins—all your wooden utensils.  It not only restores and protects, it leaves your wooden items with the light honey sweet scent of beeswax.  And the combination will moisturize your own hands in the process!

*Straight mineral oil or butcher block oil blends can be used for vegan applications

*We use mineral oil due to its low cost, high absorption and resistance to rancidity. More Eco-friendly oils can be substituted for mineral oil such as jojoba oil, walnut, coconut or almond oil. For the nut oils note some people may be sensitive to nut allergies. For walnut  and almond oil mixtures--- any leftover beeswax+oil butter should be stored in the refrigerator to resist rancidity.

Above all, we want our RusticCraft cutting boards to last—not only because they serve us well, but they also tell the story of time spent in the kitchen preparing our bountiful feasts! =)

To purchase our ready-made Beeswax blend pastes in Original, Jojoba & Coconut blends see this link: http://rusticcraftdesigns.com/wood-butters/

 

Beeswax & Mineral Oil Wood Seasoning Paste Instructions

yields 10 ounces of beeswax + oil butter

Ingredients:

  • Unfiltered, yellow beeswax chunks; 1/4 cup ( 2 ounces) You can purchase at your local health food store or farmer's markets; we suggest Roots Natural Foods in Leominster, MA     http://www.rootsnaturalfoods.com
  • Pharmacy grade Mineral oil ( or Jojoba Oil...or Coconut Oil); 1 cup (8 ounces) You can purchase Mineral oil at any drugstore; walgreens, cvs, rite-aid etc.

Tools Required:

  • measuring cup
  • small saucepan or a double boiler for melting the beeswax
  • pint sized wide mouth glass mason jar for storing the butter; wide-mouth for ease of access
  • skinny spatula or butter knife
  • clean white cotton rag

 

Step 1:

Pour mineral oil into a measuring cup until you have 1 Cup of oil. Add beeswax to the oil until you have 1 1/4 cup of oil+beeswax.

It's quicker to break up the beeswax chunk into small pieces for quicker melting, you may also shave your beeswax in a cheese grater before adding to the oil.

Step 2:

Pour your oil+beeswax mixture into your saucepan and heat on low, stirring constantly until the beeswax has dissolved into the oil.

Beeswax has a high melting point range of between 144 to 147 °F....discoloration occurs if heated beyond 180°F.

Step 3:

Remove from heat, let sit for a minute and pour this mixture into your glass mason jar. Let this mixture cool for a few hours; stirring once or twice an hour with a skinny spatula or butter knife to ensure a well blended paste. If you do not stir the mixture before it fully cools, it will be less consistent of a paste, with the middle being more oily than the edges.

Application:

Ensure your cutting board is cleaned and dried prior to seasoning.

  • To apply your new beeswax + oil butter to your wooden items; scoop a dollop of the paste onto your board...a little goes a long way.
  • Using a clean white cotton rag (or your clean fingers), rub into the board with the grain until the wax disappears.
  • Let this soak into the board for 5-15 minutes or so.
  • Rub the board for a minute or so with a clean cotton rag to buff the finish until soft and smooth. For best results rub/buff in small circular motions.
  • Let sit for a few minutes to a few hours...and you are done! Your board should be soft to the touch, with a wet-look luster and sweet slight scent of honey.
  • This mixture can be saved in your pantry for the next application. You may want to label the jar...just in case...= )

 

I hope this wood care post was helpful! Please don't hesitate to post questions or comments...thanks!

 

For more information regarding maintenance of wood cutting boards; see our cutting board care instructions here:

http://rusticcraftdesigns.com/cutting-boards/cutting-board-care-instructions/

 

 

Wood...our beautiful, natural, renewable kitchen resource.

 

 

RusticCraft philosophy

Our core business philosophy is doing what we love; creating eco-conscious, functional and beautiful items from natural or salvaged materials; providing consumers with attractive hand crafted items to fit their green lifestyle in a beautiful way.