I am offering 30% off of anything in my Etsy and Zibbet stores for a limited time. Use the coupon code PAPER30 at the time of purchase at my Etsy shop and 30% will be deducted from the entire purchase. I can’t make coupons on Zibbet, but you will see the list prices there are already reduced from the usual price.
There’s still time to get a present that you can be sure they don’t already have.
The offer is good until January 6 of next year, so if the holidays come and go and you find to your dismay that nobody has given you an origami mask for Christmas, you still have time to get one for yourself.
Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Joyous Solstice and a Fabulous Festivus for the rest of us!
New mask available at my Zibbet shop:
I like the way the horns came out on this model, although it’s difficult to really see from the photograph. I used a blend of metallic paints, titanium white and raw umber to get a stony looking surface, and I think it looks a bit like the gargoyles hanging from the side of an old cathedral. In the picture it looks rather silvery, but in real life it’s a more earthy, brownish color – these masks are devilishly hard to photograph for some reason (at least for me).
This is the latest mask just finished in an ongoing study of bearded faces. He combines elements from previous designs:
like this one, in certain structures of the face and beard, and the headress design of this mask:
Mixing elements from different sources is one of the best ways to keep the designs evolving.
I mentioned my misgivings with Etsy in a previous post, and I was interested to here a relevant report on NPR just this morning. You can see the transcription or listen to the story here. It might give a little more background on the Etsy seller debacle.
Also of interest is an NPR story about Etsy from almost a year ago.The older article is about Etsy’s “growing pains”, how Etsy was going to deal with it’s growing base of sellers (800,000 at the time – closer to a million now) and some of those sellers’ desires to increase their own business. The story mentions one seller who saw demand for her products increase beyond Etsy’s capacity to handle the business. So she started doing a large portion of her business outside of Etsy. So she was becoming a success and Etsy was not able to get a cut of the profits.
According to the new policies at Etsy, a seller can have employees doing the crafting, can farm out part of the production to outside manufacturers, pretty much run a business that is more like a factory than what most customers would expect when they are shopping for “handmade”. That’s fine – that just makes it easier for people to start up small businesses, create jobs and all that. But a lot of people joined Etsy years ago just to sell a few handmade goods and make a little extra income, not to become the CEO of a factory. And what is only hinted at in the NPR stories is that Etsy doesn’t really want those individual crafters making handmade goods one at a time on the kitchen table to make a little extra money. They want the “big sellers”, the ones who can churn out product and provide Etsy with a consistently high return. CEO Chad Dickerson has been acting as the voice of Etsy in interviews, but he is not one of the founders of Etsy. He was a former CTO at Yahoo brought on in 2008 to make Etsy into a more efficient money machine. He has no allegiance to the original philosophy of Etsy. He is there to make Etsy profitable and that is all. I can’t blame him for doing his job.
I guess the biggest problem is that they want to have it both ways. They want to be a big business while appearing to be a small business. So what is Etsy? The people who made Etsy years ago, the people making things with their own hands out of their own homes, the ones that gave Etsy it’s quirky, crafty, resourceful image – that’s still the image that Etsy wants to project, but those are the same people whom Etsy will throw under the bus to get the “big sellers”.
But that’s just business.
Now selling at Zibbet:
This is Saladin, my first item for sale at Zibbet. I’ve actually had an account with Zibbet for some time as an alternative venue to Etsy, I just haven’t used it until now.
Zibbet, in case you don’t know, is an online marketplace for individual sellers of handmade items. It sounds a lot like Etsy, and it is – or at least it’s a lot like Etsy used to be.
I’ve been selling on Etsy for a few years now and frankly, I have no complaints. They make transactions very simple and efficient and they offer great visibility and customer service. But I’ve noticed a shift in their fundamental philosophy over the years that is a little troubling. Etsy started small, as a kind of a co-op for artists and artisans to make their work more accessible to a broader market. But as Etsy got bigger and more popular, they changed leadership and they changed policy to make the site more about sales and less about the seller. They seem to want to be a hipster Amazon now, providing as much boho swag to as many buyers as possible. While they claim to prohibit re-selling – purchasing new products wholesale that the seller had no hand in creating and selling it on Etsy as your own, their latest policies have left the door open for some less-than-forthright sellers to do just that. Sellers can pass off factory or sweat-shop made items as one-of-a-kind crafts with a minimum of effort, or get away with outright trafficking of mass-produced, low cost goods if they are willing to pretend to be involved in the creation of those goods.
I’ve been on the fence about all this for a while. Although I’ve been disappointed in the shift in priorities at Etsy, they are still maintaining good consistent service to buyers and in some ways it could be said that they are just providing online shoppers what they want and more of it. But then again, they are increasingly misrepresenting themselves – one might go so far as to say duping the public – by continuing to project an image of artsy, bohemian individualism when they are making a good chunk of their revenue from mass-produced tchochkes from China.
It’s a shame because Etsy still has some really excellent artists. They have some of the best handmade goods you can find online. I’ve stayed with Etsy because of this and because of the ease of doing business there. I haven’t personally felt the pressure of competing with mass-produced and under-priced goods because the stuff that I do is rather far afield of all that. But just because this change hasn’t affected me directly doesn’t mean that i can ignore it. So for a while at least, I’ll continue to have some items posted on Etsy because I appreciate the community there. But I will also be posting items on Zibbet and seeing how it goes there.
A lot of Etsy sellers have migrated to Zibbet lately. Zibbet has been around for a while now, began as a low-cost, less flashy alternative to Etsy but remaining true to the same ethos that Etsy has seemed to abandon. In response to the latest changes at Etsy, Zibbet has set up the website ipledgehandmade.com, as you see in the link above, to reiterate their commitment to the handmade community.
I’d like to share an interesting video by a friend and fellow tessellator, Ben Parker. You can find a few videos out there showing techniques for folding grids, but this is the first one I’ve seen that shows the process of folding a grid of such size from beginning to end in one sitting. I must commend Ben’s endurance.
I wanted to feature this video here for two reasons. First, to address the most frequently asked question I get (probably the most frequently asked question for Ben too): “Where do you get paper with grids in it?” The answer is “You take a piece of paper and fold a grid in it, or if you’re very lucky, a nice person might fold it for you. But most likely you’ll be doing it yourself”. This is inevitably followed by “How long does it take you to do that?” – The answer is “A long time”.
The second thing that interested me in this video is Ben’s technique. It’s unique. I first saw Ben fold a grid in person some five or six years ago at a convention in NYC and I found it baffling. Folding a grid is one of the most basic things you have to do if you’re going to make origami tessellations and at the time it seemed to me that there just couldn’t be too many ways to go about doing it. Well Ben had a way of doing it that never occurred to me. He breaks up the process of dividing the pleats ever smaller into sequences of iterations working from the center out. I had always worked from one end of the paper to the other, accordion folding, then dividing each accordion fold in half, then dividing all the halves in half, working systematically in one direction until a have the proper number of iterations. Just goes to show that you should never assume that you know all there is to know about anything. There’s always going to be something new.
And speaking of something new… okay that’s a terrible segue, but it’s all I’ve got… how about some new masks at Etsy.
The first is called “Creon” and the second “Hierophant”. I’ve been spending a lot of time lately combining and recombining elements from older designs with new ideas for certain features like eyes and mouths and some decorative elements, sort of tossing everything into a big design stew and seeing what comes out. Hierophant for example has many features in common with the previous “Shakti” design, combined with a headress adapted from the “Bronze Idol” with a lot of modifications to get everything to fit together. It’s like origami alchemy. Well it’s really more like origami evolution, as some bits are carried over from one face to another, with some modifications and new mutations added in each generation. Creon is descended in a roundabout way from the old “Oread” model, a design which has spawned numerous variations since.
I came across this little animated film via an article on Richard Feynman at the Telegraph UK. You really should watch it. It won’t take much of your time; it’s barely more than a minute long. It’s a wonderful animation created to accompany some of Feynman’s comments on science and beauty from an interview in 1981.
Richard Feynman may have been one of the greatest American physicists of the 20th century. He was without a doubt one of the most colorful. I highly recommend reading the semi-autobiographical “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman” and “What do YOU Care What Other People Think” – books full of anecdotes, adventures and science. He was a man of genius, to be sure, but his greatest strength was his insatiable curiosity. He dove headlong into any little thing that piqued his interest and his enthusiasm can’t help but sweep you along for the ride.
If you want more physics, I recommend “QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter” (That’s QED as in Quantum Electro-Dynamics), wherein he describes the theory that won him a Nobel Prize and the diagrammatic language he created to describe it. Feynman has a knack for clear description that makes even a scientific dilettante like me feel like they can almost grasp quantum mechanics. For slightly less esoteric physics, try “Six Easy Pieces” – six essays from his landmark series of Lectures on Physics considered the “easiest” and most accessible to the general reader (“easiest” being a relative term, mind)
You could say Feynman was a bit of a dilettante himself. He had a visual style of problem solving, as evidenced by the diagrams he created to help decipher quantum mechanics, and he had an interest with the artist’s way of seeing the world. As the interview clip shows, he felt that scientific vision was in no way antithetical to aesthetic appreciation. Quite the contrary, scientific inquiry only gives us more to appreciate. Feynman addressed his artistic curiosity with the same gusto he brought to everything else. He began drawing in the 40′s and took lessons to improve his skills. He continued drawing and painting until his final days. A lifelong admirer of the female form, he tended towards nude figure drawing. It also gave him an excuse to indulge his modest vice of frequenting strip clubs – now it was research.
Gregarious, witty, absolutely brilliant – charming yet blunt, eccentric yet down-to-earth; Richard Feynman is definitely on my list of top five people, living or dead, whom I would want to sit down and have coffee with.