30 projects in 30 days

Off and on, over the past few years I had the idea to try to do a series of projects over the course of a week or so…. like 12 Christmas ornaments in 12 days, or a bunch of pens leading up to graduation time…. I’ve been pretty good about getting set up to make a bunch of pens, and then not having enough free time or energy to do anything about it… or conversely, having the idea a wee bit too late, and then totally forgetting about it until it was too late again the next year. Sound familiar?

This year we’re taking the homemade approach seriously, past years were good intention, but with things the way they are, there’s just no flexibility. Luckily my daughter has a great imagination and my wife and I have some creative ideas… but I digress.

During the process of getting my shop in order for a bunch of homemade Christmas presents I found that I had lots of pen kits just waiting to be made into something beautiful and useful…

Then I remembered the challenge idea, and checked online, and found a website where artists, writers anyone really can sign up, link their blog, and take on a 30 projects in 30 days challenge. The main goal wasn’t to fill your shelves with tons of projects, but rather to force yourself to be creative everyday. Whether or not you think you have the time, you’ll force yourself to just do it, and in the process, you might find yourself taking your work in a new direction, or at least develop your abilities beyond where they’d be in a year or two from now if you just casually plodded along whenever time, energy (and the pull of the accursed TV) allow.

So, I have all these pen kits in the basement, I’ll make 30 pens in 30 days!… But alas I only have 26 kits, and now I’m kinda into the 30 day idea. So I’ll make pens and bottle stoppers! Yeah, that’s the ticket. I’ll have really nice gifts for everyone, and (thanks to the bounty of wood from the Lumberjocks pen trading swap) I can do this all for free (or rather by only using money I’d already spent.)

Ok, now I know the spirit of the idea is just to practice your craft, and build up your skills and creativity… and I’m adding in the additional challenge of coming up with 30 “gift quality” items… well, pens still are relatively quick, and if I have to make two a day to get one good one, time-wise that should still be OK. Besideswhich I’ll be done on Dec 1st, and will still have 3 weeks to make or repair anything else that gets put on the list. No Problem.

No. Problem. Over the past year, between Christmas, birthdays, and a slew of cousins, nieces and nephews graduating, I’ve already gifted quite a few pens. Sure I can give more… but I can’t really give the same thing two years in a row.

If only there was a way I could sell or trade these with friends, without coming out and having to “sell them”, or put them on eBay and cross my fingers. Even though I’ve had a couple of fine art shows about ten years back (and had moderate success with them) friends and family (except for Mom) never seem to remember that I’m available for hire for interesting and unique gifts – often (cause I’m a sap) for pretty cheap.

Then I remembered reading about a “painting a day” auction that several painters came up with a few years ago. The idea was that they would spend about an hour painting a small canvas and market it to everyone on their mailing lists 24 hours in advance of a very short eBay auction. Most paintings sold for a bit over $100 in a matter of minutes. Most sold out, being collectible one of a kind pieces, that in turn allowed these artists to earn a fairly good living, and still have time to work on larger commissions that might take months if not years to sell.

Ok, how to adapt this idea… A Ha! take advantage of the viral marketing of social networking sites like Facebook, and give my friends (both real and online acquaintances) the opportunity of taking part in a semi-private auction, where they can support a friend, an up-and-coming artist, and get something nice for themselves or to gift, that they might not otherwise be able to afford of equal quality at a higher end art/artisan boutique.

What a win-win. I have the opportunity to get plenty of practice at my craft (without breaking the bank or flooding myself with pens) and my friends (the real ones at least) get to keep their money local. (and I won’t have to give my six-year old a pair or matching ball point pens for Christmas. ‘I know it’s not a pony, but look at that woodgrain!… Would you rather have wenge than black walnut?’)

I’ll be posting the projects here, after I get the ball rolling on my Facebook page, which is a “business page” so anyone on Facebook (“friend” or not)can view it (it might even be viewable by the general public). http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wilton-NH/Blanchard-Creative-Woodworking/32878627365?ref=s

if you’re already on Facebook, check it out, “become a fan”, and come along for the ride… or if you’re a creative in your own right, set up a site of your own, and tackle your own 30 day challenge! I’m starting November 1st. (The next one isn’t until April) Who’s with me?

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