Wednesday, February 25, 2015

When the Clock Doesn't Tick or Tock

Those of you who follow me on Facebook know that I recently bought a non-working clock face that I have absolutely no need for ... but just couldn't resist:)

It is a whopping 30-inches wide and has a lovely 'old world' feel to it. I especially like the brass ring-framed hole, which I think would be perfect to frame an antique postcard or photo.

An aside but extra plus to me: this clock was actually made in the USA!
I had been requesting suggestions and ideas on how to repurpose/upcycle the clock on my Facebook page. I don't need another working tick-tock clock. I was envisioning something different, to perhaps display some of my postcards.
Well, I got good ideas via Facebook and especially good advice from Julie of Montana to "just look at it for a while." Because, you know, good ideas -- like French wine -- take time. Fortunately, I am a dyed-in-the-wool procrastinator so I don't usually have to fret about rushing into anything.
I did lots of Googling using search words like decoupage, altered, upcycled, repurposed and steampunk which I pair up and alternated with phrases like wall clock and clock face.
I got more 'clock' ideas and found many intriguing links leading me off in related and unrelated tangents. Like the $12,000 steampunk clock listed on Etsy ... . (I posted several of those inspiring tangents on Facebook.) 

And then, after supper, a blogger's name popped into my head. Betsy at My Salvaged Treasures​ is the queen of repurposing stuff. She made an accessory hanger out of an antique drawer front that I'm still envying:) 

Now, I subscribe to her blog but never comment. Yes, I'm one of those terrible people!! (I'm writing this blog in hopes of some redemption:)
Still, I decided to boldly email her and ask about any ideas for my clock face. To be honest, I didn't expect a reply. Why should she? 
But Betsy is the real deal and this a.m. I awoke to a lengthy email filled with several good suggestions. Here in part is what she wrote:

"First thing that comes to mind is to just hang it the way it's gorgeous.  Rather than start attaching things to it, I might make up some decorative magnets using old jewelry, buttons, etc,  This way you could use it as a picture or note holder without altering it in case you wanted to change it up at a later time.  

It would also be cool to use it as a centerpiece on a table, you could add feet to the bottom of it to raise it up a bit, then display pretty things on top.

Another idea since it's so large is to use it as a table top.  You could either find a suitable pedestal base or even one of those pre-made round tables with three legs that you can find at any department store.  Cover the base then add the clock face to the top, maybe even a piece of glass over it....or not."

The table top idea had been suggested by one of my Facebook friends, but the main thing I really appreciated in Betsy's advice was the idea to use some decorative magnets to hold my postcards or photos "without altering it in case you wanted to change it up at a later time." 

My clock face is just under a quarter-inch thick and made of plywood. I happen to have two metal sheets bought at a craft shop.

I did some quick experimenting and yes, I could adhere the metal sheet to the back of the clock and a magnet on the front will work. Through the wood and the paper, it still can hold a postcard in place.

So, for a procrastinator who has trouble making decisions, I really appreciate this idea that leaves my options open!
A big merci beaucoup to Betsy and to my supportive readers on Facebook!
This is still a work in progress. I've got to 'play' around and find the right postcards, etc. etc., but I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, if anyone else has a clock face project, comes across an interesting do-over or has a suggestion, do share and add links in the comment section. Oh, and subscribe to My Salvaged Treasures. Unlike myself, Betsy blogs regularly, connects with other bloggers and you'll get tons of decorating, crafting ideas!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Will You Be My Valentine? FrenchKissed Freebie for Personal Use

OK, so just yesterday I was complaining a smidgen that I'm just not into the commercialization of love known as Valentine's Day. Every day should be a love and chocolate day, in my opinion:)
Well ... around 3:30 yesterday afternoon, my mailman brought me a package from France and this cutie was among the postcards. As anyone who knows me knows, I have a major weakness for red. So, this little monkey with her little red umbrella and her little red hat instantly stole my heart!

The image above is a PNG with a transparent background. It will print just like you see it, with the rounded corners. But for those who prefer to work with JPEGs, the one below is for you. You'll have to cut it manually to get your rounded corners.
So sorry I didn't get this to you sooner, but as I said, I only got it myself yesterday. For those as curious as I am, here you have the original postcard mailed in 1918. I didn't understand the English line "Do come and see us at GIB." I assumed it was some business?? But then, I saw the sender's note: Come see us at Gibraltar.  I don't comprehend the "translation prohibited!!!" A joke that goes over my head:)
In case you haven't heard, Gibraltar is famous for the monkeys that live there.
According to Wiki, they are Barbary macaques and they are:
"... the only wild monkey population in the European continent, and, unlike that of North Africa, it is thriving. At present, some 300 animals in five troops occupy the area of the Upper Rock area of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve, though occasional forays into the town may result in damage to personal property. As they are a tailless species, they are also known locally as Barbary apes or rock apes, despite being monkeys." 
Something to add to your bucket list to see!?
Until then, go there vicariously with this furry sweetheart.

Oh, just for clarification: these images are for personal use only and those terms of use are embedded in the image file. After the holidays, I'll get a high res version available for resellers. Thank you for understanding. Now, I'm off to the movies with my Valentine. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Art, Beauty, Truth, Honor, Ethics and Making Money

Don't you just love her enthusiasm? Her joie de vivre! This woman knows how to get excited and is not afraid to show it to the world. She knows how to celebrate with gusto. One of the things I love about this illustration by Dutch artist Frederick Kaemmerer (1839-1902) is the clarity he gives us of the woman's face. She's not some impressionistic blur, but she really comes alive and you wanna raise your arms and grab a few streamers, too!
This card is extra special to me for another reason, too. It used to belong to a Polish count. Yes, I'm not making this up! Count Benedict Tyszkiewicz lived in Paris, was a member of the Paris Photo Club and a well-known art collector. He used to get artists to autograph his postcards of their artwork. 
After much sleuthing and no little amount of hair pulling, I think I have also figured out something else about the count's postcards. They were, in essence, similar to what you would consider a limited edition glicee today. Publisher houses that specialized in quality engravings, full color lithographs, book illustrations and such also printed select postcards of high quality. The count was such a regular customer that they had a stamp for his name and address. 
The difference in the count's collection can be compared to the difference between a Wal-Mart 99-cent special greeting card and a Hallmark $5.99 card. Here's another example:
The card on the left was mass produced in sepia for the public. The card on the right is from the count's collection. It was printed and mailed to him. It is for sale in my Ruby Lane shop

Now, back to Madame Confetti-Streamer. This illustration was used as the front cover of the March 1894 edition of Figaro Illustre.
I wanted to know more about this image and my Google search led me to a Pinterest collection, where this image is incorrectly attributed to Jean Beraud. But it is of interest because the link to the image takes you to digital library of  The New York Public Library which provides folks free access to more than 800,000 items.
"Free access" is not the same thing as free, as in free digitals. You know how much the library wants to charge an individual for a 300 dpi Tiff digital copy of Madame Confetti-Streamer?

Yep. Fifty dollars. And look at the fees for commercial use: $200-350! For ONE image!
In my searching I found an eBay seller who had an original copy of this Figaro issue and his opening bid was $50. A much better deal, I'd say.

The New York Library's fees are likely on the low end to what other companies charge for for digital use. Visit sites like Getty Images or Shutterstock. We're talking easily $150 for a single image.

And yet ... Etsy is a different world. Digitals go for as little as 99 cents for a single image, $2.99 for a sheet of multiple images. WHY in a marketplace built by and for artists and crafters do we undervalue ourselves, our work, our time, our talent, our investment?

I am not into the starving artist stereotype.

Which leads me to why my $3.99 copy of Madame Confetti-Streamer in my FrenchKissed Etsy shop is not an instant download. It's rather hard for me to continue writing. I really want to sound like a professional business owner. Part of me says I'm just sounding like a whining bitch:) But ... please bear with me.

It wasn't a New Year's resolution. It wasn't a conscience thing. Slowly but surely over the last year I realized I had to accept something. You know that old saying "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results every time"? Well, with each passing year that my Etsy shop was open, I realized that ... I wasn't making any money. In theory, it sounds great: resell the same image over and over and over. A real cash cow, right? In theory, yes. In reality, it doesn't work that way. I kept thinking things would finally pay off. That if I just had more variety, more stock, more customers. If I just ... If ... 
If my husband died tomorrow and I had to live on my Etsy earnings, I would be a bag lady. I would be living at about 50 percent BELOW the poverty level. 

 A few months ago doing an online search I found one of my original designs for sale as a canvas in a (mostly) wholesale jewelry store. I'm like, wait a minute here! I've sold something for $5.99 and someone else with the right connections and enough capital is marketing it as a canvas, making $XX amount of dollars off of each sale of MY rare postcard that I customized and I got what? $5.99! No royalties. No commission. Not even name credit.

That was the catalyst that made me realize I've got to be a better business person. I have to have better control over my digitals, my postcard investment, my art. It might be easier to hold water, but ... the first step I decided to take is to embed my copyright/Terms of Use into each image. I have more than a 1,000 images. It's going to be a slow process:)
The next idea I had was to set up two separate stores with different price ranges: one to sell digitals for personal use and another to sell to resellers (or people who want a super hi-res image). Since I don't go for contracts, commissions and royalties, I feel it only fair that when a person is going to resell my images, I should receive more compensation upfront.

There is, of course, the question of how do I 'enforce' this? How do I get people to be honest and ethical? How do I ensure that business owners will go to my B2B FrenchKissedToo shop and pay that higher price?
I knew it wasn't going to be easy and a recent experience proved it.

 A customer, a fellow business owner, requested that I relist an image that I knew he wanted to use to resell to print on wood. When I explained my new Terms of Service for resellers, when I listed a 1200 dpi version of the image for $12.99 in my B2B FrenchKissedToo shop, he said he could not afford that, that he still had to put food on the table. He went to my Zibbet shop where the item was still listed and got it there for $3.99. My Zibbet shop is now in vacation mode.

Eventually his kind will be blocked from buying from me. 

Until then, I will strive to patiently direct my customers to the right store.
And if it's an image that is rare, hard to come by and say, selling for $200-350 on the New York Public Library site, like my Madame Confetti-Streamer*, then I'm going to exercise more control over who it is sold to and for what purposes. 

Because I love art, beauty, truth ... and eating too.

*Instant download for commercial use in my FrenchKissedToo store (a 450 dpi and a 1200 dpi version for a BARGAIN price of  $8.99 and $16.99 respectively). 

PS If you haven't already, do check out my previous post about Size Matters. I've attempted to illustrate the difference in a 300 or a 1200 dpi. The two sales I have had in my new FrenchKissedToo shop have actually been to individuals who wanted to make poster/wall art out of an image.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Yes, Ladies: Size Matters!

Mes amies, I am in the process of restructuring my business. I now have two shops on Etsy for digital downloads. FrenchKissed is going to be for PERSONAL use only and FrenchKissedToo is designed for RESELLERS, whether that be a fellow Etsy dealer who just wants to reprint 20 copies of an image or a graphic designer who wants to create and market an internationally distributed poster. 

The difference in what will be offered has to do with size: 
DPI -- dots per inch, resolution, the number of 'pixels.' 
Size matters:)

 Just how 'big' is 1200 dpi? 
Well, at 1200 dpi, you can turn a 3-inch postcard into a 3-foot-wide poster! 
To illustrate the difference in size and dpi, look at the following comparisons.

Let's say I want to make a greeting card. It's 5x7 inches.
In one window of my Photoshop program,  I have my  postcard-size 1200 dpi scan.
In the other window, I have my 5x7 inch blank white canvas and I've set it to 300 dpi because that's what the average printing source will print.
When I drag my 1200 dpi scan over to the 5x7 window, look what I get. 

 I'm not tech savvy enough to explain it real well but a 1200 dpi image is NOT 4 times as big as a 300 dpi image. It is 16 times as big and if the image is a PNG, even bigger. As you can see, to make a 1200 dpi scan fit into this greeting card size box, I've got to reduce it a LOT. Turning something big into something smaller is OK. You can size and resize to your heart's content. But if something is small to begin with and you want to enlarge it: oh, that's where the problems starts. Fuzziness. Blurriness. Pixelated. Ugly:(

But obviously, 1200 dpi for a greeting card is a bit overkill.

However, quite by guess-work, I discovered that a 450 dpi image is PERFECT to make a greeting card. This is what it looked like when I slid the 450-dpi version of my postcard over to the 5x7 inch window. I've even got some leeway to maneuver it around a bit.

Now, here's what it looks like when I drag a 300-dpi postcard scan into a 5x7 inch window:

As you can see, I've got a lot of blank space. I'm going to have to enlarge this image 150% to make it fit. At what point will it start losing clarity, becoming fuzzy, blurry and pixelated? That is the question!

Well, honestly, I've found I can usually print a postcard big enough to fill a sheet of typing paper and it will look fine. Proportionately, that would be 7x10 inches. THIS particular image is a print/illustration, not a real photo. When I played with it to enlarge it to fill the 5x7 canvas, it did begin to get pixelated and blurry. I also learned while writing this blog that when I do that "scale to fit media print" (i.e. print as big as the paper size) that the printing dpi was reduced by half! And indeed, my typing sheet print came out looking very soft focused and blurry. When I did another test print at 100% actual size, then the printer once again registered the true 300 dpi resolution and I had a nice sharp, postcard-size print.

For personal use, to make a gift tag, an ATC, to print out and layer with other background papers, a 300 dpi postcard image will work wonders.
To make greeting cards, journal pages, wall art and posters, bigger is better:)

As you know, the digital market is flooded. I mean TSUNAMI style. And that's not even including the images that are 'shared' on Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr, etc. In fact, what I think about how the digital world has devalued art/ephemera with no qualms about 'right click copy' stealing -- well, that rant would have to take a lengthy blog post on its own.

BUT quantity doesn't always mean quality.
I'm continuing with my obsession to offer you what's different, images that are rare, the unusual, the unique, the hard to find, all at top quality, from my personal collection.

As I gradually shift my stock, rework and resize my images with my embedded copyright/TOU information, it is my hope that customers will do the honorable thing and shop in the shop intended for them:)
Yes, my prices are going up for resellers, but it's a flat fee, paid one time. There are no royalties or commissions to keep track of and bother with. It's still a bon marche!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

December Free Downloads

When I was a child, I loved the snow.
Which was a good thing because in Wallace, Idaho, where I was born, one could count on several months of snow each year.

Nowadays, I like the idea of snow.
I like my snow pristine white and confined to paper:)

Like this month's free download.

This is an unsigned Adolfo Busi postcard. Busi was born in Bologna, Italy, in 1891. He died in 1977. The Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York has a 4-line bio about Busi. Which is more than the Italian Wikipedia site has. It always saddens me when information about the artist's life is lost ... . Especially, when they have left behind an impressive body of work!

My card was produced by Degami, a Milan publishing house. Now, the Italian Wiki site does give some interesting info about this. Began in 1900 by two Italians, they produced postcard designs from many big name Italian artists, such as Nanni, Corbella, Bertiglia and Busi.

They liked to print the cards in series of 4 which would usually be 3 different designs and then one mirror image. So, if you flip this download in a photo editing program (Image Rotation/Flip Canvas Horizontal) and print it again, you'll have half the series:)

The other two designs feature one of the children with an armload of snowballs and in another scene, one throws a snowball that makes contact right in the derriere.

I don't have the rest in the series but ... maybe by next December!

Now before I feel guilty about featuring an Italian postcard for this month's FrenchKissed freebie, I'll defend myself by saying that I have seen versions with the French Happy New Year greeting "Bonne Annee" printed on the front, designed to be specifically marketed for areas outside Italy.

And my card is quite French after all. I'll share the messy looking back side to prove it:)
It was mailed in France to Mademoiselle Julia Rolin in Braux, France (Ardennes department or county).
"Meilleurs voeux pour 1931 de tous." Best wishes for 1931 to all.
Signed: Colette.
You can't get much Frenchier than Colette, oui?!

Now, to show my appreciation for your becoming a FrenchKissed affiliate [translation: helping me advertise and spread the word about my digitals]  I'm including this second freebie, which also has some snow -- but holds promise of spring with sweet blue flowers.
I like the design because it beckons you to fill in the blank space! What will you put in there? A message or another pretty something/someone to tell a story?

My card is scribbled on verso, but most of the message has been torn away. Still, I can tell that it had an undivided back, which dates this beauty to 1903 or early.

I thank you in advance for sharing this month's free downloads with friends and telling them about my shop. Send them a link to this blog post or pass the downloads on to them with the info attached, s'il vous plait.
FYI: the 25% discount code for this month as noted on the downloads is Neige25. Neige is French for snow.
Just click on the postcard images and they will open big and bold in a new window. Right click/copy and save to your computer.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Enigma of the Artist's Signature Solved!

Two posts ago I wrote about a mystery that was driving me nuts: an artist named Gottaro who I could find zilch information about on the Internet.
A special thanks to Debbie in Norway (aka Daqa Doodles) who brainstormed with me on Gottaro/Gottano/Cottano/Cez Ottaro/Etc. Etc. We were both thinking along the same lines trying to decipher the artist's signature.
Well, I'm so very pleased to announce that the mystery has been solved, sort of. 

I say sort of because there still is very little known about this artist but at least I found out what his name is: 

Yeah, yeah, once you KNOW his name, then you can make out the E encircled by the very funky B:)

The only reason I'm not embarrassed by the egg on my face is because I found many other postcard sellers who have been calling him "Gottaro" also. Quite by happenstance, I came across the name Bottaro and that led me to my French postcard 'bible': Neudin's Les Meilleures Cartes Postales d'Illustrateurs. From Neudin's, I learned that Bottaro was Italian and most of his art work was produced around 1900-1913 before World War I. Now, online sources say he was born in 1892, no death date given. I don't think the 1892 is accurate unless Mr. Bottaro was an art prodigy.
Anyway, now I have a better idea of Mr. Bottaro's art style and I'm happy to discover that I have more of his postcards than I realized.

A bit of trivia: there is an artist named Bottaro who is famous as a Disney illustrator. I can't help but wonder if Emile could be his father or grandfather ... 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Is This Your Grandpa?!

I have a bit of a quandary. I recently spent the better part of a day colorizing what I thought to be a portrait of a Victorian/Edwardian gentleman.
Around 2 or 3 that afternoon when I thought I was ready to list the item on Etsy, I checked the back of my card in search of more information. I often like to post the date my original card was mailed. Well ... imagine my chagrin when I flipped the card over and saw this.
I say 'chagrin' because notice that the birth of Mr. Van Cauwelaert is listed as 1885 but there is no death date given. Thanks to Google I immediately learned that this Belgian poet died in 1945.
If this postcard was printed, say, in 1937 or earlier, then I suppose the copyright issue, my initial main concern, is moot. But the more I thought about this, the more I felt knee-deep in an ethical question.
Most sites about Mr. Van Cauwelaert are written in Dutch and what I have gleamed is that he married and had two daughters. I don't know about the family tree beyond that, but ... imagine ... that you are his granddaughter or grandson.
How would you feel if you were surfing the web and came across a greeting card or someone's art journal page or an assemblage collage and voila!: there was GRANDPA!
How would you feel? Honored? Proud? Perplexed? Mad? Ready to sue!?

I have a great photo postcard of my own grandfather with his brother-in-law. The story, as I recall, is that the photo was taken the night before my grandfather's wedding. They have huge handkerchiefs tied around their shoulders. They are feeling no pain, if you know what I mean. The scene is so candid and so rich in 'instant story' without even knowing the backstory that I have toyed with the idea of making it available as a digital scan. And then, quickly dropped said idea!

Maybe I am overthinking everything. A tendency that I have. I know how I feel about the images I work with. I have the highest respect for these people and they are not just faces to make a buck off of. I reverently think about them, what their life might have been like, what kind of personality they had, their joys and sorrows. In essence, for a few hours I feel that I resurrect them and give them life again. I know that they are one of billions among the mass of humanity who have lived and died through the eons. But out of this sea of anonymity, I like to think that I give renewed meaning to this long forgotten life ... and I wonder if anyone, a hundred years from now, will do the same with a photo of me.

So ... back to Mr. Van Cauwelaert. Public figures are used to being in the public and having their faces plastered everywhere. Perhaps that's why I've never given any thought to sharing images of the turn-of-the-century stars and celebrities like Cleo de Merode or Anna Held. I've never given their grandchildren or great grandchildren a second thought. Mr. Van Cauwelaert  is also a public figure, albeit not well known. So ... what is the difference? I'm not sure.
There could be some legal copyright technicality that is niggling the back of my mind. The fact that Mr. Van Cauwelaert died relatively recently: 1945? I'm not sure how old he is in the photo. If he is in the prime of his life, say 30-ish, then that still dates the photo to about 1915 and very Edwardian.

What are your thoughts on this?
If he were your grandpa, how would you feel about finding his face for sale on Etsy?

Monday, November 3, 2014

Gottaro the Artist and Anonymity

This is my latest listing on Etsy.
I have lots of questions about it and thought I'd try putting some of those questions out in blogland, too.
I find it incredible that in our age of information overload there are still some things that one can't find an iota of info about:)
I would love to know more about the lady's costume, what part of France she represents and what century. But all the more, I'd love to know about the artist "Gottaro."
Google is almost synonymous with god when it comes to being all-knowing. If you can't get results in English, you can switch to another language and voila! Even more info at one's fingertips in a matter of seconds.
And yet ... when it comes to Gottaro, I mostly get info about an artist named Gottardo. After I've convinced Google that I really do know how to spell what I'm looking for, that all-knowing well of knowledge dries up.
When I do a Google search using the image itself, I am instantly cheered when it says "no other images like this show up." That's music to a collector's ears, of course! But still ... it seems such an insult for an artist to die in oblivion.
So, OK, Blogland. Anyone know anything about this artist or this image? Anyone?!

PS If you dropped in to grab this month's free download, it's the post before this one and there's actually two freebies.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

FrenchKissed November Freebies and Coupon Code

I'm offering two freebies this month. 
In honor of Veteran's Day -- or Remembrance Day -- as it's called in many other parts of the world, I wanted to share this vintage photo that, in my opinion, oozes with ambiance and character and, oh, what a story it can tell. 
On the back of my photo postcard, it is dated 1941, so this photo would actually be from the beginning of World War II. The chemicals in the paper have done what chemicals often do after many decades and you'll notice the strange coloring. It almost looks like rust or mud. Instant time machine that transports us back there ...

Think of this photo and the soldiers when you want to remember what this month's Boomerang Discount Code is. In French "Poilu" means soldier. Well, literally it means hairy! (??!!) But from what I can deduce, a new soldier in the army is called a poilu and perhaps it's not until after he's proven his merit is he called a 'soldat'?? Similar to in the US when men are referred to as "GIs."
[IF I get some clarity on this from my American-French friend in Paris, I'll post an update.]

The postcard below is one of those that I can say: I've seen literally hundreds of thousands of postcards in my decade-plus of collecting and I have never seen this one before. Of course, with all those red accents, I love it.

So remember how this works. I give you these and you go out and tell the world about that wonderful digital scrapbooking/graphic arts shop named  FrenchKissed:)
When you're shopping in my Etsy store, just before you get ready to click that Paypal button, you'll see blue words "apply shop coupon." Type in Poilu25 in place of those blue words and you'll get 25% off your order. All month long.
It's my way of saying Merci Beaucoup for being a loyal customer who comes back again and again.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October Special Delivery: Chocolate and Flowers

My original postcard is an early 1900s advertisement for Bendsdorp Cocoa, a cocoa and chocolate factory established in Amsterdam in 1840. Since then, ownership has changed hands a few times and the company is now based in France.

I've removed most of company's text and now you have space to customize and add your own creative touch.  I say "most" of the company's text because if you look closely, you'll see that along with the bouquet, the little gentleman caller also has an item in his pocket labeled "Cacao Ben....." The original powder was likely in a can, but we're going to use our imaginations and think of this as a chocolate bar:)

The text on the scan is pretty self-explanatory. Yes, this is where I bribe you to help me advertise my business:) But hey, I'm making it pretty easy, n'est-ce pas?
It's also my way of saying "merci beaucoup" to my regular, loyal customers who keep coming back again and again.
I don't care for complicated sales or marketing gimmicks. I figure this is as about as simple as I can get it. Just check here or on my Facebook page for the monthly Boomerang Code.

CLARIFICATION: I use the word Boomerang "Code" and I realize now that perhaps I should be calling it "coupon." Look for the blue words "apply shop coupon" under the Paypal logo during checkout on Etsy. That's where you input the "cacao25" coupon/code.