Friday, May 01, 2015

Happy 10th Birthday to YazBerry!

Wow! I have been making beautiful things for you to wear and gift for 10 years! I am impressed. As a thank you to you for your continued support, I am offering 10% off everything (including custom baby shoe orders) May 1-3, 2015! Simply place an order on facebook to enjoy a 10% discount off your total order. Thank you! Love - Virginia

Thursday, April 02, 2015

#Liberateyourart Postcard Swap Art Received

It's been a fun month, this winter I participated in an art postcard swap project. Every week this month I have been getting mysterious postcards in the mail. How fun! Here is the loot:

Postcards from artists all over the US. 

I hadn't drawn much or painted in almost a decade so I used this as an excuse to force myself to do just that. Here are my contributions to the project: 
You can see more images and read more about my postcards in these blog posts: #liberateyourart

This was a fun project, I think I will use a different printing company next time. I wish more of the artists wrote notes on their postcards like Kat the organizer suggested, I wrote nice notes and was hoping for the same, some of this felt very promotional which wasn't what I was expecting. But either way. it's fun to see what people are proud of and to get surprise mail! Who doesn't love a little mail. I didn't make any new connections out of this like I thought I might but oh well, I painted! I like what I contributed, and hope it brightened someone's day!

Here is a video montage of some of the contributing artists, compiled by Kat Sloma (copyright Kat Sloma 2015) I'm sharing as one of my pieces is included at 3:00 minutes. Enjoy!

April 16-19 you can follow the "link hop" by scrolling down and clicking on any of the participating blogs to see what other participating artists have shared. 

TUTORIAL: How to Dye Eggs with Silk

It's that time of year, Easter in the Christian world. Happy Easter to those that celebrate from my egg laden table to yours! At my house, like most creative activities, dying Easter eggs is an art, we try new techniques each year.

This year, this video tutorial on how to dye eggs with silk scarves was shared by a few of my facebook friends. I thought, heck, that looks easy and lovely, I will give it a try. I found the instructions a little sparse, so I turned to Martha to fill in the blanks.

-eggs (as few or many as you want, my scarf was enough for 9 and and I didn't want to do a 2nd batch)
-silk scarf, neckties, boxers, shirts, fabric, etc. (must be 100% silk) mine was $2.99 at Goodwill. (Tip: look for small scale prints, you will enjoy the tiny details on your egss, or mix and match, I wouldn't go much larger than the print I have featured or you will get mostly solid eggs).
-scissors-white fabric (anything, old sheet, cotton muslin, old tablecloth etc.)
-twist ties (plastic coated if you have them otherwise paper coated works, I just found they dissolved in the water and were harder to remove).
-3 tablespoons white vinegar-water
-non-reactive pot (I used metal successfully, though Martha suggests glass or enamel and the video uses enamel)
-vegetable oil (optional - to give shine to finished eggs)

Step 1:
Thrift, raid your closet or purchase new, something made of silk. You will be cutting it into pieces and the dye will bleed in the hot water so make sure it is something you are willing to part with. Make sure whatever you use is 100% silk as they dye process used in dying natural fibers such as silk is what allows the dye to transfer to your know you your fancy clothes need to be washed in cold water? This is why, they are not color fast in hot water.

Step 2:
Cut your silk into 7" x 7" squares. Note: many silks have rich enough dye that you can reuse them 2-5 times (depending on lots of factors) to dye eggs. Cut your white fabric into 7" x 7" squares.

Step 3: 
Wrap your eggs tightly with the silk squares. The video shows scrunching them around a broad side, I did mine scrunching them at the bottom (broader end) because I thought it would yield a better transfer. You can experiment. This is an art, not a science so have fun. The imperfections add to the beauty. Secure with a twist tie.

Step 4:
Wrap the silk in the white fabric. Make sure you tuck the tails inside as this will limit how much dye seeps into the water and will give you cleaner color and print transfers.

Step 5:

Place the wrapped eggs into the pot, fill with enough water so that the eggs are fully submerged. Don't pack too tightly with eggs as you want room for the water to circulate around the eggs to aid in the dye transfer. Add 3 tablespoons white vinegar.

Step 6:
Put pot on stove on high. Bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes. Remove egg packets from water, leave wrapped to cool.

Step 7:

Once the wrapped eggs are cooled, remove the wrappings. Remember, you can reuse this silk 2-5 times. With the white fabric, use your best judgement, if it soaked in a lot of dye, maybe cut fresh pieces next time, if only a little dye was absorbed

Step 8: Optional
If you want a shiny finish to the eggs, lightly brush them with vegetable oil. Once you let the oil dry a little you can gently rub off the excess with a dish towel.


(Disclaimer, there are 2 blown eggs mixed in to fill the display from mom's adventures in Ukranian egg decorating from a few years ago (they are holding up nicely!))

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Big Changes at YazBerry

Dear fans and friends, and those that are one in the same,

I regret to announce that after a few years of tragically slow sales on my one-of-a-kind handmade clothing and purses, I am going to take a break from the production of aforementioned products. I cannot compete with the prices of mass produced goods overseas that many are demanding of me.

I am an independent artisan. That means I imagine the item, source the materials (online, out driving from store to store, anywhere I can find goods), design the item, I draft a pattern when appropriate or make the item directly on the dress form, I cut, assemble and sew each item, I photograph each item, sometimes many times since I am an amateur photographer at best, I write copy and descriptions of each item, I measure each item, I upload images to the internet, I make my own advertising materials with my basic paint and Microsoft Publisher software, I write blog entries, I promote my own work on facebook and twitter, I try to convince buyers at craft fairs that my work is worthy of your hard earned money, I build display props (which involves sourcing materials, figuring out how to make my idea functional, trouble shooting, rebuilding, redesigning...repeat), I set up my own booth at fairs...the list goes on. I am a Jane of All Trades....literally. All of this while working full time day jobs!

Needless to say, to keep up with the cost of living I need to earn more than minimum wage for all of this work and am not coming anywhere near that. My purses and clothes have been sold at production cost (materials and some labor (and barely)) for the past 10 years because when I raise the prices to a profitable number I experience no sales. I cannot sustain this business model. I love designing purses and clothing, but without a customer base it is a labor of love in vain.

What does this mean? I am not going out of business. I am shifting gears. I will continue making fabulous jewelry and will also continue with the new baby shoes and accessories line. I will consider custom orders on purses and clothing on a case by case basis. I will also consider custom quilting projects, though be prepared to pay what they are worth ($500 - $1500+).

I have been in the process of relocating to a different country for the last 2 years. Once that process is finalized, I will reevaluate my creative pursuits again and may launch a new line. I've wanted to design high end, fashion forward, performance outerwear for many years and may finally be able to take some design classes to learn about some of the technology out there that may make this process doable, though I will not be sewing these pieces from scratch but intend to source a domestic sewing shop to produce them.

As my personal friends are aware, I have been slowly auctioning off at deep discounts, and now finally am giving away, the rest of my handmade purse and clothing inventory. This decision has been extremely difficult for me (simply facing the loss of potential income...not to mention confessing that I failed). Just today I gave away a hand stitched leather piece for free that I know should sell for $300! This decision and my failing business has caused me too much stress, anxiety and depression. It is time to move forward with new ideas.

I want to thank you for your continued interest in my creative pursuits and support over the last decade (can you believe it, YazBerry will be 10 years old in May!). YazBerry has been an interesting ride and I hope you will continue following me as my creative direction shifts in the next few years.

Please continue following me on facebook I am too active there and you will have the most up to date news. You can shop my existing inventory right from my photo albums. I accept payment via PayPal invoices (all major credit cards - no need to even have a PayPal account) and I will ship worldwide. 

Thank you,


Tuesday, March 03, 2015

#liberateyourart Postcards Sent Today!

I've finished my postcards and after some frustrating printing mishaps from Fedex office online (BE VERY CAREFUL and put lots of info in notes in your online order because apparently simply clicking on the document type postcards does not guarantee you a postcard sized print...not a user friendly website at all...go to a retail place and pay the little extra to guarantee you get what you want...)

All images are Copyright Virginia E. Berry 2015 and are my original designs. 

Here they are!

Two lucky artists in the postcard swap #liberateyourart will get my favorite painting from this exercise.

I now have 8.5 x 11 prints of these images...that I felt compelled to purchase even though they intended to shred them due to the mistake (It just felt so wasteful and since it is my art I thought I'd take them since I NEVER reproduce my paintings...though sadly the edge of the Rat Baby Love image is slightly cut off where the text is...wanh wanh). I am happy to share with you if you want one :) I can have others printed too. Just contact me and name your price. Prints are $1.49 plus postage and envelope so you have an idea of my expense (not to mention labor and creativity but your price ;) ) I may work on the scans of the images with the all white backgrounds to get the shadows out from where the page was warped from watercolors. 

Sweet handwritten messages to the unknown artist recipients.

And the envelope off to Kat Sloma the organizer and facilitator of this fun project. I hope I remember to sign up again next year. Looking forward to art in my mailbox! 

Also very excited about the vintage circus poster stamps the Post Office had! You can buy your own. I want to send more mail just so I can use these....seriously considering stock piling them since they are forever stamps now. They had me at the stripey clown tights! 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day from the Rat Babies #liberateyourart

My husband and I both sent cute rat themed valentines to each other independently (we are in different countries at the moment). Here was my contribution.

I skype with with husband and our 3 pet rats everyday. Dumbo and Baby are cage mates and he was holding them about like this the other day and it made me think of this image. Sometimes they wrap their tails around things like little hands so the tips do curl like that (artistic liberty on the placement ;) )

All images copyright Virginia E. Berry 2015

Sunday, February 08, 2015

And the Award for Artistic Insomnia Goes to Last Night and the 6:30 AM Bedtime #liberateyourart

I prefer working on creative projects at night. No pretty birds in the yard to distract me. No one to bother me. Not much of interest on TV. That warm, delightful silence that the darkness offers after everyone else is asleep. Best working hours always.

Last night apparently my sketchbook practice turned into a much more elaborate effort than I had anticipated...bedtime ended up being 6:30 AM...just before sunrise so at least it was dark when I shut my eyes.

Here is the painting that true insomnia produced. All images copyright Virginia E. Berry 2015

Again, rough images taken with my cell phone. Better images another day. My laborious, whimsical sketchbook addition:

Close up of raw crystal crown, an idea I've had for a while for a jewelry project.

Pocket pet rat baby on an arrow that reads "Big ideas constantly swarm me"

Rumination text in bird reads: "My mind is swarming with big ideas, they keep me up at night. Like a constant fight, I rarely sleep for fear of losing the good ones. The ones I ruminate on for hours on end, I try to write down, to capture, like wild creatures I hope to cultivate into remarkable contributions. My meager marks on this world. I know we race through this short life, and with that I hope to leave it better than when I entered it. Some nights my thoughts wake me in the middle of my dreams, demanding I record them. I am of simple means, extravagant dreams and humble talent. I read, study and practice constantly, seeking a way to launch my dreams into the universe."

Friday, February 06, 2015

Liberate Your Art Sketchbook Practice #liberateyourart

I'm participating in #liberateyourart this year and haven't done hardly any drawing or painting in almost 15 years (wow, shameful!). I pulled out an old sketchbook that had some blank sheets left and did some artistic explorations last night in the middle of the night. (Most creative in the silent, dark hours). All images are my original work and copyright Virginia E. Berry 2015

These are quick cell phone photos and the color/grain is not great. Another day when I decide which I will make into postcards for the Liberate Your Art project, I will take better images. For now I am practicing drawing and painting and exploring technique as it has been a looong time and my skills are rusty. I like these paintings but know there's more impressive something in there...

Text reads: "Is there a line where the soul ends and the universe begins?"

Text reads: "I ruminate my dreams away hoping not to lose my visions and ideas like petals in the wind..."