Professional Development Seminar Feed

"Beyond the Shores We Know" - Insights from Casey Sharpe

Casey Sharpe has worked closely with me for more than two months to combine the original audio recordings and lectures from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar for posting on YouTube. Below is a feature interview with Casey.  

Why did you volunteer to do this job for SNAG?
Casey Sharpe: I think it is important to preserve and share information.  The Professional Development Seminars are a really valuable tool for all craftspeople.  I’ve been a member of SNAG for over seven years, and I’ve found it a valuable resource, and a great way to connect with the larger jewelry and metalsmithing community. 

I Lay in the Tidal Pool
wool, silk, glass beads, sterling silver

Where do you find your inspiration?
Casey Sharpe:  As for my subject matter, my childhood was spent traveling between the east and west coasts of the United States.  I’ve spent most of my life living within an hour of the ocean, and have always been fascinated by quiet beaches.  There is something about the smell of the salt air, the cry of gulls, and the sand underfoot that soothes me, and I try to capture that in my work.

Sand and Barnacle Cufflinks
Sand, resin, sterling silver

Where did you learn metalworkS?
Casey Sharpe: I learned metalsmithing under Sharon Church and Rod McCormick at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA.


Beyond the Shores We Know
silk, sea cell, glass beads, sterling silver


What has been the most helpful information or skill you learned in school?
Casey Sharpe: I think the most helpful thing I learned in school was to chase my interests, to pick up techniques and ideas, and to push everything as far as I could.  On the more technical side, I learned chasing and repousse in school, and absolutely fell in love with it.


Sand and Barnacle Pendants
sand, resin, sterling silver


What has been the most helpful skill or information you learned on the job?
Casey Sharpe: My day job taught me how many things I can do for myself, as well as when to hand off things to other people.  You have to know when to look for a professional, and when to ask for advice and do it yourself.  


Years After I Washed Ashore
wool, cotton, sterling silver

Where is your studio?
Casey Sharpe: I make all of my work out of my home studio in Los Angeles, CA

Where do you sell your work?
Casey Sharpe: Several galleries carry my work, including Freehand Gallery (Los Angeles, CA), the Craft and Folk Art Museum (Los Angeles, CA), and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (Houston, TX).  I also have an Etsy shop.


Sand and Barnacle Earrings
sand, resin, sterling silver

Again, I want to extend my thanks and appreciation to Casey Sharpe. It was a true delight to work with her and she demonstrates one of the key values of volunteering -- getting to know new people and gaining experience.  Like her title, Casey was willing to go "beyond the shores we know" to venture into new territory. She did not even know how to combine the audio and Powerpoints for video,  but she jumped in and figured out a workable solution. This  trait that will take Casey far in the voyage of life.

Best Regards,

Countless Hours of Advocacy

Photography-In-Flux-Niche-Marketing-VerticalHave you ever thought about the countless hours speakers spend preparing the content of their presentations. That is the finale of a year or years of preparation. Every year, the Professional Development Seminar Committee worked for 12 months prior to the Conference to develop an informative program and group of speakers.

Initially, I wondered  how a wider audience could benefit from this amazing resource beyond the immediate three-hour program at the Conference.  It became obvious that if the presentations were posted online (with the permission of the speakers), they could serve as a recurring resource for years to come.  

Purple-Cow-5-presentations-verticalFor the past five years I have posted presentations from the Professional Development Seminar.  These presentations, given during the annual SNAG Conferences, provide valuable information useful for the entire arts and craft community. 

That was the early premise and hope.  But would it really work?

I am happy to report that after five years of postings, the online presentations recently achieved over 200,000 views! That is a testament in itself.  

This spring the original presentations along with audio moved to YouTube as videos.

ShippingVerticalIt was a lot of work and I desperately needed help to get this job done. 

Casey Sharpe stepped up and volunteered. She was instrumental in converting the original PowerPoints and audio recordings into video which were uploaded to YouTube. This tremendous resource would not have been available if it weren't for Casey's volunteer hours to make this happen.  

I'd like to express my deep appreciation for Casey's efforts. "Thank you, Casey."

After working with Casey Sharpe for the past three months, I thought that it was time to learn more about her work with a few questions. Tomorrow  is a special feature interview with Casey and comments about her work. The titles for her work are very interesting. See what you think? Stay tuned until tomorrow.

P.S. The Professional Development Seminar is looking for a person who is interested in editing the audio recordings of one more seminar; "Collectors, Collections and YOU" from the Minneapolis SNAG Conference. 2014. Would you be interested in helping?

Learn the fundamentals of audio editing, and work with me closely for a month or two to bring seven lectures to the arts and crafts community from the recent Professional Development Seminar. Leard how to edit audio (if you don't know how.) Listen to the valuable information from our speakers. Become informed. Be an advocate for the arts and crafts community.
Collector's CollectionsYou-Blue

What is the Value of Your Work?

Harriete Estel Berman standing in front of her artwork at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
Have you ever wondered ...

What are key considerations when art or craft is accepted into a collection?

What is the value of that particular work to a collector or collection?

Does having artwork in a collection actually affect the value of future work?

These questions delve into the myriad issues of value. Price is not the sole determinant of value. Materials are not the sole determinant of value. The amount of time you put into making a piece has little to do with its perceived value.

In fact, the value of a particular piece may vary depending on different contexts, situations or people.

In the post "Most of all, money is a story", Seth Godin says:

“Five dollars to buy a snack box on an airplane is worth something very different than five dollars to buy a cup of coffee after a fancy meal, which is worth something different than five dollars in the grocery store. That's because we get to pretend that the five dollars in each situation is worth a different amount--because it's been shifted.”


Deganit-Stern Schocken Me Uchim. NYTAs artists and makers trying to sell our work, we often talk about price and value in the same sentence, but they are not the same thing.

The necklace to the left is attributed to Deganit-Stern Schocken Me Uchin.* 

It is made from crushed tin cans without any effort at refined craft skill.  

Below is a necklace by Mary Lee Hu.* It is finely woven from gold.

Both necklaces are made by contemporary art jewelers. Each makes a statement about value of materials, and craftsmanship. Both are in the Newark Museum collection. I can't wait to hear what Ulysses Dietz has to say at the SNAG Professional Development Seminar about this work and other pieces in their collection.

Are there actions that artists can take to increase the value of their work? 


Collector's, Collections and Your Art Work

The upcoming SNAG Professional Development Seminar is focusing on the idea that your work is important.  Your art or craft can be significant to the present and the future of your field. 


I know that sounds like lofty words, but if you don't think your work is important who will? 

Then you might be asking... 

  • What are those steps you need to take as a maker to create a place in history?
  • How do you place your work in a collection?
  • How does a collector look at work? 
  • How does work get donated to a museum collection?
  • What criteria does a museum have in mind when they accept work for their collection?  
  • So many questions to ask.

This is the focus for...
"Collectors, Collections and You"

Friday, April 25, 2013.
1:30 to 5:00 p.m. 

The Professional Development Seminar has lots of ideas to open your eyes to seeing your work in a new way. 

But you don't have to wait! 
You can listen in to a preview of the PDS
 chock full of information in an interview on Jay Whaley Metalsmith Bench Talk with me, Harriete Estel Berman  and Betty Talbott. Betty Talbott is the Director of the Ohio Craft Museum and Artistic Director of the Ohio Designer Craftsmen. They have an extensive collection of member works and are a stellar example of "grassroots" collections.


Your work may have value to your family, the history of your guild, academic program, or a museum. Start with your Maker's Mark, & Inventory Records as a foundation.

Look at the line up of speakers here.

Register for the PDS at the SNAG conference here.


It is also possible to purchase a one day pass for the day of the Professional Development Seminar.

1001 Marquette Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN


This is my maker's mark (above).
Are you wondering why it looks like a domestic iron?




Creative Commons License
Harriete Estel Berman by ASK Harriete is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at

Identity of the Maker Establishes Value - from $15 to $300,000

Is your maker mark on your work?

The identity of the maker can raise the price from $15. to $267,750.

In this amazing story a "rare piece of jewelry plucked from a flea market" was auctioned at Christie's for an estimated $200,000- $300,000.
Calder Necklace spiralWhat are the issues here?

First, the person who found it at the flea market had to appreciate it's dynamic, perhaps even commanding  appearance in the context of a flea market... the "guy had it in a box on the ground,”

Next: she sees the Calder jewelry exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Museum and becomes informed, a great reason to study and learn about the decorative arts.

But the most significant issue, the one that changes a $15 necklace found at a flea market into a mind blowing value, is that it had to be authenticated by the Calder Foundation in New York. "Part of the mission of the Calder Foundation is to protect the Artist’s legacy. Many existing works are often misattributed to Alexander Calder." (Examples of Calder Jewelry can be found here.)

The foundation discovered that the necklace was indeed an authentic Calder originally exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in 1943.

More recently, Christies' auctioned the necklace on September 26, 2013.  The price realized for the Calder Necklace = $267,750

Issues to consider:

  • Maker marks or signature for your art or craft
  • Importance of provenance
  • Materials do not equal value
  • Impact of auction house on price

We can learn a lot from this example.
AND I have more to come in future posts.


Slide show of jewelry by Calder on The New York Times Website.

Information about the Calder Jewelry exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Museum. (I saw the show at the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2008. It was small but amazing.)

Fabulous images of Calder's stabiles and mobiles along with other work can be found on ARTSY. There is also an interview with his grand-son.

Here is a link to another maker mark example. In this segment from Antiques Roadshow,  there was a deliberate effort to fake the maker's mark.  You can watch the video segment here.


Craft Commission Contract Information

Until several years ago I thought the Commission Contracts commonly available through published books were adequate. That was until I went to use them myself for a commission of this Seder plate (below).


Right from the start, I realized there were issues not included in the contract that needed to be discussed such as the payment schedule, photography, and taxes (which amounted to a considerable sum.)

PursuitCornerCurl72With this is mind I want to share a resource for readers of ASK Harriete.

Commission information from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar from 2007 (scroll down)

Millennium of Pursuit Seder Plate from recycled tin cans.

SNAG PDS about  Commissions.
In 2007 the SNAG Professional Development Seminar sponsored a program about Commissions. The Speakers included John Medeweff, public sculpture; Cynthia Eid, silver commissions; and Todd Reed, jewelry.  The program was organized by Don Friedlich, Andy Cooperman, and myself, Harriete Estel Berman.

There is a very informative Commission handout which everyone may download for free.  I highly recommend reading this document with hard earned words of advice.

John Medeweff handout is titled "The Do’s & Don’ts of Public Art & Private Commissions". Here is a brief list of his 11 points

  1. Respond only to Call to Artists/RFQ (Request for Qualifications.)
  2. Follow the directions!
  3. Do not take rejections personally.
  4. Most selection committees will choose 3 finalists.
  5. Winning the commission is great but it also means that you will assume a huge responsibility.
  6. Not all public art agencies are created equal.
  7. Never start work on the project until ...
  8. Stand behind your work.
  9. Who is the Patron?
  10. Charge for design work!
  11. Installation.

Cynthia Eid offered practical information about commissions including topics:

  • Getting Commissions
  • Designing Commissions
  • Working with the Client
  • Working with a Committee
  • Pricing
  • Tactics for Making Large Sculpture in a Jewelry Studio
  • Preparing for Installation
  • Documentation and Photography

All of this information is available...but most people aren't aware of this untapped resource. Check it out!  You are welcome to share this information with a link to proper  attribution to the original source.

Millennium of Pursuit        2010 was commissioned by Temple Emanu-El, San Francisco, CA. This seder plate was inspired by the elaborate designs and patterns from the ceiling, walls, and window design of the early 20th century synogogue. View more contemporary Judaica.


Commission Question and Publishing on Facebook

Commission Contract Resources & Recommendations

21 Presentations = 140,726 views of PDS

Purple-Cow-ALL-6-presentations-verticalThree years ago I suggested recording the SNAG Professional Development Seminar at the conference.

The goal?

Share and keep sharing the information with the arts and crafts community beyond the one, live afternoon at the SNAG Conference.

Why share these presentations for free?

Because SNAG is dedicated to education.

Now, after three years and 21 recorded presentations, there have been over 140,000 views.


WOW!  Beyond expectations!

But it wasn't magic that made this happen. Lots of people and organizations made this possible with their hard work.

And special thanks goes to every speaker that allowed us to record their presentation and post it online.

Thank you to SNAG, the NEA, and MJSA for providing funding. Thank you also to Jeweler's Mutual for their sponsored representative  Tina Pint.

Every presentation
can be found online on:

the SNAG website, or
my website
view the presentations directly on Slideshare & YouTube.

Everyone is invited to share this information with their local or national art organizations.


Link to a single presentation or the entire group.


There is also an embed code for your website or blog (with appropriate links and attributions.)   



Please contact me directly through my website, Facebook, Google + if you need help or information.

The Professional Development Seminar was organized
over the past 10 years by Don Friedlich, Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin and myself, Harriete Estel Berman.


Contact Brigitte Martin or myself for suggestions of future topics.


Photography-In-Flux-Niche-Marketing-VerticalP.S. Just ask for the link to a specific presentation, an image or the embed code.


10 Tips for Catching & Keeping an Editor's Attention -- by Michelle Bilodeau

This is the last presentation from the 2013 SNAG Professional Development Seminar.

Purple-Cow-ALL-6-presentations-verticalAs part of our purple cow series, we recognized that photography of jewelry, clothing, accessories and wearable work were all increasingly using models.

The isolated object with the graduated background is not the only option. In addition, the type of model and the styling of the photos are morphing with purple options and purple brick roads.

As organizers of the Professional Development Seminar, Brigitte Martin, Andy Cooperman, and I felt very fortunate to find Toronto based fashion editor and stylist Michelle Bilodeau.

An experienced speaker and spokesperson from the fashion and design world, Bilodeau (left in photo below) deftly organized her lecture into
"10 Tips for Catching & Keeping an Editor's Attention."

Michelle Bilodeau Viktor & Rolf
Without a doubt, you will find nuggets of information
that you can adapt for generating purple cow visibility for your work. My favorite tip for finding free to low cost professional quality models came out in the Q & A with the audience, so listen to the entire presentation all the way to the very end. I promise. It is worth listening.

Another suggestion from Michelle Bilodeau is to anticipate trends especially if your work aligns with fashion. An example is shown below in this two page spread from Elle June 2013.


In this ad, Tiffany riffs off the Gatsby movie with jewelry and styling inspired by the 1920's. The pearls, long necklace, hair diadem, and bracelet hand ring accessory all pick up on this summer blockbuster.

Another point is how the diadem worn by this model picks up on the fascinator trend from last winter. Everything old, can be new again. Consider new ways your jewelry or clothing can pick up on fashionable trends.

Tiffany's obviously had to be planing months in advance to have the jewelry, photo shoot and ad appear simultaneously with the movie, but you can do this too.

Michelle Bilodeau points out the blogs have a shorter lead time than magazines, but they still need to hear your pitch and see your images a month or so in advance of the next trend.  

You are welcome to share this lecture on Facebook, or Pin it to Pinterest. The embed code for your blog or website is also available. The easiest option is to share the link to this blog.
Find all 21 presentations from the past SNAG Professional Development Seminars on the SNAG web site and my own website. The information is offered for free to build a stronger craft community. Share the information. Information is power.

Bringing the Purple Cow to the Market: Tapping Into the Experience Economy by Lara Bazant

Mootivational Cow
Artist: Joanne P. Cassaro

Sponsor: Waypoint Bank
From the Cow Parade in Harrisburg, PA

In this lecture from the 2013 SNAG Professional Development Seminar Sacred Cow,
Purple Cow,
Cash Cow
speaker Lara Bazant offers articulate explanations for how her "experience" workshops have provided visibility, increased retail purchases, and augmented revenue.

Her lecture presentation offers a new perspective on the experience economy. Within only 15 minutes plus the Q & A with the audience she was able to answer all our questions and offer a solid approach to finding a new audience.

Below are some the questions we asked her to address:

  • Can you tell us how your experience workshops came to be?
  • What led you in this direction--was there an “aha” moment?
  • Do your experience workshop increase purchase of your jewelry or compete with retail purchase?
  • How do you promote your experience workshops?
  • Do you charge the same price for every event?
  • Do you charge per person?
  • How many people can take an experience workshop at one time?   
  • Do you charge a material fee?
As you listen to this lecture, THINK about how you can participate in the experience economy. 

P.S. The 2013 Professional Development Seminar was organized by Brigitte Martin, Andy Cooperman and myself Harriete Estel Berman to provide nuts and bolts entrepreneurial information. It is sponsored by SNAG and MJSA.  

Here is my question for you?
What information would you like to see covered as a topic in 2014. Any ideas? This is your opportunity to be a force for good. Please leave your suggestion in the comments or contact me privately through my website.
I look forward to hearing your ideas.

Cash Cow, Sacred Cow, Purple Cow - Intro

Purple cow in your faceEach Monday for the next five weeks the original PowerPoint presentations with recorded audio from the 2013 SNAG Professional Development Seminar will be posted on line. The program organized by Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin and myself, Harriete Estel Berman, was a great success with insightful and provocative observations.

Here is what Rebecca Rose had  say about the Professional Development Seminar:
"The conference segment that I heard the most pre-game talk and anticipation from attendees was for "Purple Cow, Sacred Cow, Cash Cow.  I imagine from the stage it may have looked like people were playing with their cell phones, but really it was a sea of people sitting to the left, right, and in front of me that were fervently typing notes into their iPhone's "Notes" app. It was easy to notice because I was doing the same."

"The true testimonial was the line of people I saw waiting for their turn at the mic to ask questions. Questions about SEO and responsive design for websites, how and where to find affordable emerging models for photos shoots, I realized, wow, not only were they paying attention, but they want to learn more. And for good reason, because the information presented is the type of info that gives us a running start ahead of the pack. Especially in terms of learning about magazine editors and how to pass through gatekeepers to get your work noticed. Great topics, great presenters, and great real-world info." Rebecca Rose

There will be five presentations with ideas for how everyone can reach new markets for their work. Topics covered will include "Pop-up shops", using video & photography, the "experience economy", optimizing for cell phones and mobile platforms, and reaching fashion editors with images of your work.

The goal when organizing this PDS was to tap into the Toronto scene seeking out innovators in jewelry, design, and the web. We were aiming to find the unique talent that Toronto had to offer with “purple cows” who consistently create truly unique experiences for their customers. We did! Stay tuned each Monday.


White Tents or Remarkable Purple Cows

Cash Cow, Sacred Cow, Purple Cow

The SNAG Professional Development Seminar is coming up soon. 

The topic for 2.5 hours of programming is:
"Cash Cow, Sacred Cow, Purple Cow"


The Professional Development Seminar will have the fabulous volunteer efforts of Lindsey Snell who will blog and tumbler the lecture LIVE!!!! from Toronto, Canada, on Friday, May 17, 2:30-5:30pm EDT.



Here is what Lindsey Snell has to say about our topic:
"I'm really looking forward to the PDS! The topics seem very well timed and I think it will really resonate with people at the conference" [along with the listeners on tumbler & twitter].

"This stems from the kinds of recent conversations that are happening with many of my peers. This is especially relevant to those students who are about to embark on the transition out of academia. There is a definite sense that things are very different from the lives that our professors have known and we need to be working independently to adjust to the way things are now."

"Especially with the rise of general interest in DIY culture, interactive media, social networking, and much more, many of us feel that being talented or a great maker will not prove to be as fruitful as it once was. There is a tension between the expectations of having good craftsmanship and design skills and the ability to develop one's identity as a maker and networker."

"In the last discussion I had with a friend, I think we used the phrase "social as survival" for a way to think about things now. Not only is being unique important as ever, but visibility and accessibility are essential." 

"Also, alternative exhibition spaces are exciting and rarely get discussed in comparison to traditional galleries and museums. I always think of the Clutch Gallery that is still in Chicago- it was a girl's handbag that was transformed into a mini traveling space."

"I'm sure I could go on forever about all of this-but that is precisely why I am excited about this presentation. It really should start good and necessary discussions about contemporary issues."


Attend the PDS 
Anyone may attend the Professional Development Seminar.

Date:          Friday, May 17, 2013
Time:         3:00 – 5:30 pm
Location:  Canadian Hall, Fairmont Royal York Hotel
Address:   100 Front Street West,
                      Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5J 1E3

This year's program was inspired by two TED talks:

Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread

Joseph Pine: What consumers want

Our speakers include:

Lara Bazant- “Bringing the Purple Cow to the Market: Tapping Into the Experiential Economy

Michelle Bilodeau“Milking Your Purple Cow in Fashion”

Natasha Granatstein – “The Unexpected Purple Cow: Pop-Up Stores and Alternative Exhibition Spaces

Justin D. Hartzman -  “All You Can Eat” Website – Customizing the Cow: New trends in New Trends in Cross Platform Web Optimization

Rachel Timmins – “Purple Cow: Documentation via video and photography

SHIPPING presentations for artists and makers from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar

All of the PowerPoints from the past three years of the Professional Development Seminar were recorded and made into a SlideShare presentation with audio. Fourteen presentations from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar can be found on the SNAG website. The information is intended for artists and makers in all media.

The Professional Development Seminar is organized by Brigitte Martin, Andy Cooperman and myself, Harriete Estel Berman.

PDS Preview with Andy, Brigitte, Harriete "Cash Cow, Sacred Cow, Purple Cow"

Today is a special treat. The Professional Development Seminar Committee including Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin and myself, Harriete Estel Berman will offer insight into our upcoming program titled:
"Cash Cow, Sacred Cow, Purple Cow".

BlogtalkradioJay Whaley Metalsmith Benchtalk will be our host and ask the difficult questions.

Why did we target the PDS program on such an unusual topic? First I was inspired by the Seth Godin lecture "How to get your ideas to spread" and Joseph Pine lecture What consumers want.  Please watch this catch up.

The issue for everyone reading this blog is that we can not continue doing the same thing from the past 20+ years and expect different results. The internet, telephone technology, tablet devices, and distribution has changed everything including the marketing art and craft. As Seth Godin says, Your work needs to be remarkable....that is "worth making a remark about".

There are lots of ways to

go about making

yourself remarkable.

Find out how as we dip into this fabulous topic.

Dimensional Weight As A Shipping Factor

At one time, shipping prices were determined solely by the weight of the box. A heavier box costs more to ship than a lighter box. Sure, that makes sense.

But a few years back all the shipping companies added another factor - the size of the box. There was a realization that a large box uses more space inside a truck or plane. Thus, a new factor was added to calculate shipping prices called "dimensional weight."

Now all the shipping companies consider the dimensions of the box in the shipping calculations.
If you go to FedEx or USPS they take out their measuring tapes to find the length, width, and depth of the box. This is put into their computer along with the actual weight. The shipping calculation will take the heavier of the two, either the actual weight or the dimensional weight.

To save time, Kim Cridler recommends writing the dimensions of the shipping boxes on the outside of the box.

The dimensional weight is a shipping factor that you can not avoid, but it is something to consider when you double box your artwork for shipping. A one-inch to two-inch margin between the interior and exterior shipping box is important to protect most artwork.   So unless you have something unusual, any larger-sized outer box may be costing you more money for shipping.


Shipping Large Sculpture by Kim Cridler

This post was updated on June 17, 2022, to provide current links.


In$urance Value, Whole$ale Price, Retail Price for $HIPPING

When shipping your art or craft, save money by understanding whether to use the wholesale price or retail price for shipping insurance. It doesn't matter how much shipping insurance you purchased for shipping -- your documentation for the value of the shipped item is the critical issue.

Here is an excerpt for the Q & A from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar. I describe the scenario briefly. (P.S. This is the first time for me to insert an audio file MP3 in a post. If it doesn't work for you let me know.)


When sending work to a store/gallery or exhibition sponsor, insure the art or craft at the wholesale price.
This is all you will receive if the work is sold. This is all the insurance company will pay you (the artist) if the work is lost or damaged during shipping. You must be able to prove that you have received this wholesale price for the same or similar work.

However, if the art or craft has already been sold at the retail price (and you have a receipt to prove it), then insure the art or craft for the retail price during shipping. The invoice for the purchase price will be adequate documentation for the insurance company that you expected to receive this amount.

Insuring for a higher or lower amount than the actual value may be considered fraud. So honesty is the best policy. Insure for the accurate value given each circumstance.

Sometimes when shipping art or craft, the insurance is provided by the exhibition sponsor. In this case, the insurance value is either A) the wholesale price if still owned by the artist, or B) the retail value if owned by a collector.  A collector can show a purchase receipt to prove value.  As an artist, a successful insurance claim depends on being able to prove that you have sold similar work for similar amounts to the insurance value. The insurance company will expect documentation such as:

  • invoices for purchase;
  • copies of past checks for similar or identical work; or
  • appraisals from qualified persons to establish value. 


Posts about Insurance Value, Wholesale Price & Retail Price:

In$urance Value, Whole$ale Price, Retail Price - Under$tand the Money defines the terms.

Insurance Value, Wholesale Price, Retail Price For EXHIBITION CONTRACTS 

The SNAG  Professional Development Seminar presented three hours of shipping information for artists and makers. We covered shipping jewelry from precious metals to large sculptures, making a custom-made shipping box to international shipping. And more!

There were nine presentations and handouts with information about shipping.  

Additional information about shipping, including a number of the SNAG Professional Development Seminar presentations, can be found on my website and ASK Harriete

Ask me which presentation is the best for your interest or media.

11 boxes in my living room ready to ship to Alaska.
2 boxes are ready to ship to Los Angeles, CA.
Last week was a busy week!

This post was updated on June 17, 2022, to provide current links.


<p>Previous posts about Insurance Value, Wholesale Price &amp; Retail Price:</p>
<h3><a title="Insurance Value, Wholesale Price, Retail Price For EXHIBITION CONTRACTS"
<h3><a title="Insurance Value, Wholesale Price, Retail Price - Understand the Money " href="" target="_blank">In$urance Value, Whole$ale Price, Retail Price - Under$tand the Money</a> defines the terms.</h3>
<h3><a title="Insurance Value, Wholesale Price, Retail Price for Shipping" href="" target="_blank">In$urance Value, Whole$ale Price, Retail Price for $HIPPING</a></h3>

It is surprising how many artists do not know how to pack their work for safety and security


Why does Leila Hamdan, artist and museum registrar say: "It is surprising how many artists do not know how to pack their work for safety and security." At the Museum, "it was always heartbreaking to open a package and see that their work had been damaged."

LISTEN to French Thompson & Harriete Estel Berman as we talk about shipping disasters, recommendations, and solutions on Jay Whaley Blog Talk Radio.

Originally recorded on THURSDAY, August 9th, 2012 the archived recording is online.


CONDITION Report from the Professional Guidelines for shipping art or craft

Conditions Report from the Professional Guidelines

Claims for Damaged Work  from the Professional Guidelines

DAMN! Damaged boxes! Claims for Damaged Work.

Preservation, Conservation - Design for Repair


This post was updated on June 13, 2022, to provide current links.




Tales of Woe & Blood Curdling Shipping

BlogtalkradioThe archived recording of a conversation about shipping with French Thompson and Greg Berg can be found on  Jay Whaley Bench talk on BlogTalkRadio.

French will be telling tales of woe about shipping he witnessed when organizing a recent exhibition.

SCREAMINGHarrieteshipping BoxCrushedFRAGILE 


We will be talking about how to prevent common shipping problems.

We offer shipping recommendations and practical recommendations.


This post was updated on June 13, 2022.

DOCUMENTATION for Shipping: An Easy Step by Step Guide

HarrieteBlueFaceDocumentation for shipping art and craft is essential and professional. I've talked myself blue in the face about this topic but others certainly echo the advice.

Several presentations about shipping from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar mentioned documentation as the key to successful shipping and to be taken seriously as a professional.

Combining all of the advice the below presentation offers an easy, straightforward  step-by-step guide for:
Documentation for SHIPPING Art and Craft

Condition Report PDF

Packing Tips Sheet from ASK Harriete  


BlogtalkradioThe archived recording of a conversation about shipping with French Thompson and Greg Berg can be found on  Jay Whaley Bench talk on BlogTalkRadio. We will be talking about how to prevent common shipping problems with practical tips and recommendations for artists and makers.

This post was updated on June 13, 2022, to provide current links.


Brigitte Martin tells tales of shipping woe. Work shipped to her gallery in Pittsburgh turned into a shipping disaster described in this presentation:

At first, this seemed like a sad story with all the blame placed on the shipper. Is that what you thought?

After listening to this audio presentation several times it occurs to me that most of the problems with this crate could have been avoided with better shipping preparation. How? Read the post Great Crate Tips on ASK Harriete.



Other ASK Harriete posts about shipping:

(tip sheet)

Shipping Comparisons: Shipping Cost & Insurance with Common Carriers by Loring Taoka

Compare USPS to Fed Ex; Outrageous Difference

CONDITION Report from the Professional Guidelines for shipping art or craftConditions Report from the Professional Guidelines

Claims for Damaged Work  from the Professional Guidelines

DAMN! Damaged boxes! Claims for Damaged Work.

Preservation, Conservation - Design for Repair

Many of these presentations were offered at the SNAG 2012 Professional Development Seminar about shipping. 

This post was updated on June 17, 2022, to provide current links.

International Shipping Issues

Shipping internationally can be a "bucket of eels", says Andy Cooperman as he shares information on the difficulties of international shipping.

OceanDon't let your boxes get lost in the confusion of customs, forms, VAT, and other taxes. Shipping across international borders can be expensive with consequences. Plan ahead with all the proper forms (in quadruplicate). Dot your "I"s and cross your "T's" at every step of the way, or your packages may be lost at sea in a bureaucracy of paperwork and unexpected expenses.

At the end of the presentation listen to more information from the audience about shipping to Canada and returning to the U.S.  offering additional international shipping tips and explanations.


International Shipping Issues by Andy Cooperman


Helpful Glossary

The International Shipping Handout offers a glossary of international shipping terms that may confront you before your work crosses borders. Download PDS2012InternationalShippingCooperman



Other ASK Harriete posts about shipping:

(tip sheet)

Shipping Comparisons: Shipping Cost & Insurance with Common Carriers

Compare USPS to Fed Ex; Outrageous Difference

CONDITION Report from the Professional Guidelines for shipping art or craftConditions Report from the Professional Guidelines

Claims for Damaged Work  from the Professional Guidelines

DAMN! Damaged boxes! Claims for Damaged Work.

Preservation, Conservation - Design for Repair

Many of these presentations were offered at the SNAG 2012 Professional Development Seminar about shipping. 

This post was updated on June 11, 2022, to provide current links.


Nv0012_crateDuring the SNAG Professional Development Seminar about shipping several of the speakers gave excellent tips for making and using a crate to ship their art or craft. In this post, I am digesting these great crate tips into one post.

CRATE TIP #1 Screws holding on the lid need to be long enough to screw into the solid wood of the body of the crate. I'd say at least 1/2" to 1" deep. Keep in mind that the lid may be used as a handle, or pushed one way or another as a crate is moved around. The crate may be shipped sideways or upside down. Will the lid stay on?

CRATE TIP #2 Leila Hamdan recommended marking the screws on the crate to indicate which screws should be unscrewed in order to remove the lid.  Pure genius, maybe even obvious, but I never thought about it before. You don't want the exhibition sponsor to disassemble the entire crate when they only need to remove the lid.

CRATE TIP #3 Leila Hamdan recommended ADDING HANDLES to your crate to facilitate handling. Great idea! Even a small crate can be heavy or hard to carry. Handles could definitely help the shippers and handlers if the crate is in that middle ground where the crate is heavy but not so large that a forklift is needed.

CRATE TIP #4  Secure work inside the crate so it can't move. This was mentioned by Kim Cridler, Leila Hamdan, and Brigitte Martin. Movement inside a crate (or a box) is a recipe for disaster. Give the box or crate a shake. There should be no rattle sounds.  Assume that the box will be turned on its side or upside down regardless of the UP arrows. Securing the work one way or another is a shipping necessity.

CRATE TIP #5  Do not enclose oil, liquids, or non-essential items in a crate with the artwork.  In Leila Hamdan's lecture HORROR STORIES: Packing and Shipping Recommendations for Artists she showed a crate where a container of oil was shipped inside the crate with the artwork. This is a recipe for disaster if the oil container leaked or broke free and rolled around inside the crate hitting the artwork. Either ship the oil separately or perhaps it could be purchased locally by the exhibition sponsor. This approach also saves on shipping weight and shipping dollars.

CRATE TIP #6 Small items or individual parts should be self-contained in their own interior shipping box inside the crate. This prevents damage or possible loss. Examples of contained small parts within the box can be seen in Kim Cridler's lecture Shipping Large Sculpture. An example of a shipping disaster as a result of loose items within a crate is discussed in Brigitte Martin's lecture If Shipping Goes Wrong.  

BoxesAll of these shipping presentations are from the SNAG 2012 Professional Development Seminar. Future presentations to be discussed include International Shipping and Documentation for Shipping.

Throughout the summer the PDS Committee (Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin, and myself, Harriete Estel Berman) discuss, debate, stew, and brew about the PDS topics for the next year. I am the readers of ASK Harriete have issues that they think would make a good program topic? What are the pressing issues for artists and makers? What kind of professional information is needed, wanted, or desired? I am waiting to hear from you privately or publicly in the comments.


This post was updated on June 11, 2022, to provide current links.

SHIPPING Options for LARGE SCULPTURE - "thinking outside the box"

DollargrShipping is expensive and it seems to cost more all the time. The cost of shipping large-scale work can be prohibitive.  More problems arise when the size of your box or crate exceeds the limitations of standard shipping options like USPS, UPS, and FedEx. It can be very stressful, and the shipping solutions aren't all that easy to find on your own.

That is why Kim Cridler's lecture "Shipping Large Sculpture" is so great. Kridler offers multiple options for shipping large-scale work outside of the white glove, professional art shippers that are impossible for most of us to afford.

 BoxesAre you prepared for success? Do you think ahead about shipping when you design the work? Kim Cridler shows how she disassembles her work for safe shipping.

Are you planning for shipping in your schedule three months in advance?
See how Kim Cridler plans ahead.

Are you planning for the shipping expenses? What are the options?

What shipping documentation would exhibition locations expect to see? Cridler reveals her recommendations.  

This fabulous lecture Shipping Large Sculpture by Kim Cridler includes less familiar shipping options such as:

  • Blanket Wrapped Shipping
  • Less Than Truckload Shipping
  • Greyhound Shipping
  • Amtrak Shipping
  • Navis Pack & Ship
  • Plus...of course, the ultimate in do it yourself with U-Haul.

Shipping Large Sculpture by Kim Cridler

Kim Cridler also prepared a great handout offering practical advice about shipping options for large sculpture. Download the PDF HANDOUT Shipping Large Scale Work Kim Cridler

Kim Cridler working in the studio

Kim Cridler working on large sculpture in the studio.

Kim Cridler Sculpture finished in the studioase

Kim Cridler with finished work in the studio (above).

Kim Cridler large sculpture shipped in truck.ut

Blanket wrapped shipping. Suspended inside the truck. 

Kim Cridler Large Sculpture Installed.eutrInstalled

Sculpture by Kim Cridler installed.

This presentation Shipping Large Sculpture and the handout by Kim Cridler were originally given at the SNAG 2012 Professional Development Seminar.

The PDS occurs each year during the SNAG Conference. Organized by Brigitte Martin, Andy Cooperman, and myself, Harriete Estel Berman. The PDS provides professional development information for the arts and craft community.

Please feel welcome to share this information with your fellow artists, makers, and arts organizations. 

You can leave a comment or find me on Facebook.



Other ASK Harriete posts about shipping:

CONDITION Report from the Professional Guidelines for shipping art or craft

Tips for Safe Shipping of Jewelry


Shipping Planning vs. Shit* Happening

Shipping Boxes for Art of Craft Should Include Instructions

(tip sheet)

Shipping Comparisons: Shipping Cost & Insurance with Common Carriers 

Compare USPS to Fed Ex: Outrageous Difference

Condition Report from the Professional Guidelines

Claims for Damaged Work  from the Professional Guidelines

DAMN! Damaged boxes! Claims for Damaged Work.

Preservation, Conservation - Design for Repair

This post was updated on April 11, 2022, to provide current links.

Upon Return of Work - Always Open the Box IMMEDIATELY

BoxCrushedFRAGILEUpon return of your art or craft from an exhibition, open the box or crate immediately or within a few days at the most.


 CHECK CONTENTS against the Inventory List or Shipping Receipt. Make sure everything that was placed in the box has returned from the venue.

Tina Pint from Jeweler's Mutual Insurance specifically addresses this concern in her lecture Safe Shipping of Jewelry. Small high-value items can be removed from a single box fairly easily and the box reclosed, thus her caution for double or even triple boxing.

Brigitte Martin also describes a similar concern in her upcoming lecture "If Shipping Goes Wrong" when a crate arrived broken in the truck with parts from a sculpture strewn around the truck bed. A great reason to double-box smaller elements inside the crate.

It is important to check that the art or craft has survived shipping and is "O.K." against the Condition Report.

IF THERE ARE ANY PROBLEMS, DOCUMENT THE CONTENTS OF THE BOX IMMEDIATELY with a camera or your phone camera. Photo documentation is essential if you expect to file an insurance claim.

 ClaimsDamage2010_Page_1If you ever need to make an insurance claim, the Professional Guidelines has a document Claims for Damaged Work.

ClaimsDamage2010_Page_2This document gives you step-by-step instructions about how to make a successful claim for damaged work with the responsible organization, their insurance company, or the shipping company.

ClaimsDamage2010_Page_3Claims for Damaged Work: Artist Checklist itemizes a list of tasks that should be followed to make a successful insurance claim.

ClaimsDamage2010_Page_4The tasks are listed chronologically.  Remember that the insurer will always look for reasons to deny or approve your claim - your verbal statement is not enough. 

When it comes to shipping, you must establish that your packing was more than adequate to protect your work during shipping.

You must prove your case with as much evidence as possible or your claim may be denied. 


Other ASK Harriete posts about shipping:

CONDITION Report from the Professional Guidelines for shipping art or craft

Tips for Safe Shipping of Jewelry


Shipping Planning vs. Shit* Happening

Shipping Boxes for Art of Craft Should Include Instructions

(tip sheet)

Shipping Comparisons: Shipping Cost & Insurance with Common Carriers 

Compare USPS to Fed Ex: Outrageous Difference

Condition Report from the Professional Guidelines

Claims for Damaged Work  from the Professional Guidelines

DAMN! Damaged boxes! Claims for Damaged Work.

Preservation, Conservation - Design for Repair

Prestige, Value and Identity Bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman
Prestige, Value and Identity Bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

TAOKA3BOXESThere are several presentations ranging from shipping jewelry from precious materials to large sculptures. There is also a great cost comparison with three different size boxes and different insurance values. Stay tuned.

This post was updated on April 10, 2022, to provide current links.


Tips for Safe Shipping of Jewelry

Shipping jewelry, gemstones, or high-value items is a specialized shipping scenario. Considerations include insurance limitations by shipping companies and theft.

Do you know how best to protect your jewelry during shipping?

Tina Pint of Jeweler's Mutual Insurance Company offers great information about shipping jewelry in her presentation below. This presentation was originally given during the SNAG Professional Development Seminar 2012. Presentations and more information about shipping are also available on my website.


1) Double or triple box your work.
     This prevents "slitting" the box to steal the contents.


2 No-box) Never label your box "jewelry" even if this is part of the name of your company or the shipping destination.

  • Using the words jewelry, gemstones, and diamonds just makes your box a target for thieves.



3) Don't ship a tiny box.

  • Tiny boxes scream "jewelry inside, steal me".

4) Check the shipping & insurance policies of the shipper.

  • Many shipping companies limit insurance for shipping jewelry.



5) USPS Registered Mail was the preferred shipper in most cases.

  • Insurance should cover the amount of money you would receive in payment.    
  • If selling wholesale, insure for wholesale.
  • If selling retail, insure for retail.


6) Declare full value to avoid fraud.

  • Fraud is a Federal offense if using USPS. (Listen to the Q & A at the end of Tina Pint's lecture for an explanation of this issue.)


7) Always include an Inventory Record or Invoice.

  • Document the contents of your box (e.g with photos).





This is an informative presentation by Tina Pint of Jeweler's Mutual Insurance Company:


Other ASK Harriete posts about shipping:

CONDITION Report from the Professional Guidelines for shipping art or craft


Shipping Planning vs. Shit* Happening

Shipping Boxes for Art of Craft Should Include Instructions

(tip sheet)

Shipping Comparisons: Shipping Cost & Insurance with Common Carriers 

Compare USPS to Fed Ex: Outrageous Difference

Condition Report from the Professional Guidelines

Claims for Damaged Work  from the Professional Guidelines

DAMN! Damaged boxes! Claims for Damaged Work.

Preservation, Conservation - Design for Repair

Prestige, Value and Identity Bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman
Prestige, Value and Identity Bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

This post was updated on April 9, 2022, to provide current links.

Compare USPS to Fed Ex: Outrageous Difference

Everready Working WomanRecently I had the opportunity to participate in an exhibition with one of my favorite autobiographical pieces Everready Working Woman (left).

It cost $67 to ship it by USPS Registered Insured Mail from the San Francisco Bay Area to Arizona.

However, when the show was over (only a week later )... return shipping by Fed Ex cost $177.26 for the same identical box, with the same artwork, for an identical distance. 

That is an outrageous difference.  $177.26?...for one lightweight box is a lot of money.

I was so shocked by the price difference, it took more than a day to figure out how to reply to the email asking me to pay the $177.26.

What would you do? Really! Any suggestions?

  • Pay for the return shipping up to $67 and burn my relationship with the museum.
  • Pay the full amount of $177.26.

At this point, I have written to the exhibition sponsor asking why the return shipping cost 2 1/2 times more than shipping to the museum.

Here is my email.

While I appreciated your returning my work, your email was a huge shock.

It cost me $67. to ship my work U.S.P.S. Registered Insured to the show in AZ
To see that the return shipping by Fed Ex costs $177.26. is unexpected to say the least.
 I am thinking that there has to be some mistake.

How could shipping the same identical box cost 2 1/2 times the original shipping?

Thanks for looking into this further…..


Just found out that they shipped the box FedEx standard overnight. I would swear that my conversation said 2nd-day air. At least it would have been less. I am really upset. This means one show that was up for four days cost $244.26. Not worth it.

I am going to the FedEx office and discussing this issue. 

Hopping mad. Any ideas?


I will update this post....with information so stay tuned.


Shipping connects our studios to the world. It is such an important issue that the SNAG Professional Development Seminar dedicated our entire 2012 program to shipping. A recent post Shipping Comparisons: Shipping Cost & Insurance with Common Carriers compared five shipping companies. The cost comparison handout did not reveal such a disparity between USPS and FEDEX. What gives?


This post was updated on April 9, 2022, to provide current links.

Everready Working Woman

Art Movement During Shipping is a Problem?

Today's post focuses on some typical bad packing examples & solutions.

LooseJewelryInBox This photo (left) is bad news. Loose items (even if contained within a small box) will self-destruct during shipping. If the work can move around during shipping, it will always cause damage.

Damaged Necklace Look what happened to the necklace during shipping. It arrived broken (right).  This is not the shipper's fault. This is bad packing. 



HamdanIMG_1823"For shipping multiple small items in a large box, sub-divide the box into compartments to prevent movement," says, Leila Hamdan.

A necklace could be wrapped in tissue so beads will not hit each other, then placed in a small box.


Barcode Necklace for shipping This custom-made shipping design for my necklace uses a piece of cardboard covered in flannel. Seam binding glued to the flannel holds the necklace in place with loops. The necklace is tied onto the flannel. A couple of dollars of materials creates a shipping solution, preventing movement during shipping is the goal.


Leila Hamdam Empty Crate MovementEvery box or crate should be completely filled with Styrofoam, foam peanuts, soft foam, bubble wrap, or air-filled bags. Empty space in a crate allows the contents to shift and move. 

Always plan for the rough & tumble of shipping.  Expect your box to be shipped sideways or upside down.

This photo (left above) was from Leila Hamdam's lecture HORROR STORIES: Packing and Shipping Recommendations for Artists.  Yes, the artwork arrived damaged!

 KimCridlerbaggiesKim Cridler protects individual elements in plastic baggies. Then offers further protection by shipping the small elements in recycled plastic packaging. KimCridlerrecycledboxesHer lecture, Shipping Large Sculpture, will be posted soon.



More information about shipping is coming soon.

Do you have photos of shipping disasters you want to share?

Or do you need a solution for how to create a custom shipping box? 


Bar Code Identity Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman

This post was updated on April 9, 2022, to provide current links.

Shipping Comparisons: Shipping Cost & Insurance with Common Carriers

Have you ever wondered which shipping company is best for shipping your work to an exhibition?

SNAG Professional Development SeminarPds_logo300For the SNAG Professional Development Seminar, Loring Taoka prepared a short presentation and an essential handout for comparing shipping costs. Download PDSShippingCostComparisonsLoring


For a shipping price comparison:

There are three different boxes.

Three different insurance values.

All boxes were estimated for shipping from Seattle, WA to Pittsburgh, PA.


Download the Shipping Comparisons handout.

Watch the presentation below.

Note: Shipping cost is not the only issue. Careful handling and availability of shipping insurance are also important considerations.  

Not all carriers offer insurance to the full value of the item (which is really misleading and irritating).  

Careful handling during shipping is important.  It is my professional opinion that UPS should only be used for production work where the objects shipped are replaceable. I do NOT recommend using UPS for shipping one-of-a-kind exhibition work.

USPS "Registered Insured" offers the best handling and full insurance.  This is my recommendation for all shipping.  Registered Insured is the least expensive option if the insurance value is over $1,000. It has the added protection of being a federal offense to tamper with USPS mail.



Related topics about shipping art or craft: HORROR STORIES: Packing & Shipping Recommendations for ARTISTS


Shipping Planning vs. Sh*t Happening

Shipping Boxes for Art or Craft Should Include Instructions


Boxes for shipping Art and Craft




Claims for Damaged Art or Craft in the Professional Guidelines


Claims for Damaged Work

Condition Report from the Professional Guidelines

DAMN! Damaged boxes! Claims for Damaged Work.

Preservation, Conservation - Design for Repair

This post was updated on April 2, 2022, to provide current links.

HORROR STORIES: Packing & Shipping Recommendations for ARTISTS

Leila Hamdan As part of the SNAG 2012 Professional Development Seminar about shipping, Leila Hamdan, former Registrar for the National Ornamental Museum and artist, gave an informative lecture with lots of essential shipping information for artists and makers.

Her presentation has been posted as a YouTube presentation with audio.  You can watch the same presentation as SNAG Conference attendees.

Here are a few quotes from Leila Hamdan.

"It is surprising how many artists do not know how to pack their work for safety and security."

At the Museum, "it was always heartbreaking to open a package and see that their work had been damaged."

"The way that artists pack their work is a reflection of how they make it."

"Do not fill your box with random bits of materials so it seems as though you've emptied your recycling bin."

"Find a weighted balance [for your shipping box] to avoid having one side of the box heavier than the other."

"Always include your contact information inside the box, so you can be found should the outside label be torn off. And this does happen a lot."

Shipping connects your studio to the world.
Stay tuned for more shipping information from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar and ASK Harriete.


ShippingOneofAKind_p4.aiRelated topics about shipping:


Shipping Planning vs. Sh*t Happening

Shipping Boxes for Art or Craft Should Include Instructions


CONDITION Report from the Professional Guidelines for shipping art or craftConditions Report from the Professional Guidelines

Claims for Damaged Work  from the Professional Guidelines

DAMN! Damaged boxes! Claims for Damaged Work.

Preservation, Conservation - Design for Repair

This post was updated on April 2, 2022, to provide current links.


When shipping your one-of-a-kind work, the packing must protect your art or craft!

There are five essential criteria:

  1. Packing needs to protect your work against normal hazards. If the packing is found to be inadequate, insurance may not pay for a claim...even if you paid for insurance. A minimum standard is double boxing.

  2. All packing materials should be reusable for return shipping. Never use clear plastic tape to secure bubble wrap. Removing the tape ruins the bubble wrap and makes it unsuitable for return shipping.  Cutting through the tape risks damage to your work.

  3.  Movement in the box raises risk. Movement risks abrasion and breaking. Art or craft needs to be firmly held in place with no sound or movement.
  4. Packing materials & instructions should provide a foolproof "recipe" for repacking. Assume that the staff repacking your work is merely overwhelmed and exhausted, at best... or inexperienced, at worst.

  5. Packing sends a message about your work. The packing for your art or craft indicates how you want your work handled. A custom-made professional quality shipping box clearly signals quality and an expectation for care and attention.  In contrast, work wrapped in crumpled newspaper, paper scrap, diapers, rags, etc. looks too much like trash (which may be thrown away) or looks like rough handling is acceptable.


 ShippingOneofAKind_p1There is a matching four-page PDF handout with pictures from the Professional Guidelines. (This handout is 26MB so give it time to download. Print it in advance so you are ready to make your own shipping box.)


ShippingOneofAKind_p2Shipping connects your studio to the world.
Stay tuned for more shipping information from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar and ASK

ShippingOneofAKind_p3Are you shipping jewelry, precious materials, loose stones, or larger sculpture?  PowerPoint presentations from the SNAG Conference and handouts are coming soon.


ShippingOneofAKind_p4.aiRelated topics about shipping:

Shipping Planning vs. Sh*t Happening

Shipping Boxes for Art or Craft Should Include Instructions


Conditions Report from the Professional Guidelines

Claims for Damaged Work from the Professional Guidelines

DAMN! Damaged boxes! Claims for Damaged Work.

Preservation, Conservation - Design for Repair

This post was updated on April 2, 2022, to provide current links.

Shipping Planning vs. Sh*t Happening

Shipping starts when you're making your work! Sound confusing? Perhaps, but this is the voice of experience. 

This is the first in a series of posts about shipping. This will include some PowerPoints with audio from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar, handouts, essential tips and tricks for shipping, and documents in the Professional Guidelines including the Condition Report & Claims for Damaged Work.

BoxesTAPEcovers imagesIf you want your art or craft to travel across the state or across the country or around the world, start planning for safe shipping during construction. This is especially important if there are large or heavy elements combined with delicate components.


Kim Cridlers culptureIt isn't just my opinion. During Kim Cridler's lecture about SHIPPING LARGE SCULPTURE at the Professional Development Seminar at the SNAG Conference, she showed images of the disassembly of her sculpture prior to shipping.



Kim Cridler SMALL parts in bags for shippingThe small floral elements come off the sculpture and ship separately in small bags. When the sculpture arrives at an exhibition destination, the small elements are reattached. Planning during construction prevents the larger heavy sculpture from damaging the fragile elements.

Below is an example from my work. You will see how the work was designed to disassemble and how the custom-made shipping box is designed to ensure safe shipping.

WomanizerFULL72This appliance from 1982 is titled Womanizer, Kitchen Queen. The base is very heavy construction from brass and copper (yes, I made it to look like a real appliance)  but the plastic container and crown are very lightweight and delicate.



Womanizercrown72The Crown would likely be dented and broken if it was shipped with the heavy base. The entire sculpture was designed to assemble on-site and ship in a custom-made shipping box.


IMG_8048In the left photo, you can see the base being removed from the box.




IMG_8051The crown ships in a separate smaller box to provide protection from the heavy base.




IMG_8058To the left,  the crown is being lifted carefully from the custom-made shipping box.

In the SlideShare presentation below, you can see how this sculpture was designed for shipping, and how the custom-made shipping box protects the artwork.

Custom Shipping Box /Design Your Work for Shipping by Harriete Estel Berman

Stay tuned for more posts in this series. Lots of valuable information for shipping your art and craft safely and securely.

This post was updated on April 2, 2022, to provide current links.

Crafting a Niche Market with Unique Cowboy Boots

Lisa Sorrell
"You're Running Wild" by Lisa Sorrell

Last year's SNAG Professional Development Seminar 2011 was about Niche Marketing. Ever since then I've been looking around for examples of successful niche marketing.

In this case, successful niche marketing can be defined as finding a specialized market for exactly what you love to make and being able to make money fulfilling that market.

Recently, I discovered the amazing cowboy boots made by Lisa Sorrell on Crafthaus.  In an online conversation, she revealed that she has a waiting list of up to a year! How about them cowboy boots!



Lisa Sorrell
  Waltz of the Angels by Lisa Sorrell

Below is an interview with Lisa Sorrell about her niche market and how it came about.  I suggest watching the PDS 2011 presentation about Niche Marketing with Hilary Pfeiffer, Emiko Oye, and Deb Stoner to learn more about niche marketing. 

LisaSorrellI heard the bluebirdsing3
"I Heard the Bluebird Sing"

Lisa Sorrell interview:

How did you begin making cowboy boots?
I discovered boot making through a want ad placed in the local newspaper seeking someone “to stitch boot tops.” I never heard of boot-making or worn a pair of cowboy boots. The ad was placed by the legendary bookmaker Jay Griffith, who was a cantankerous old alcoholic. A veteran of both WWII and the Korean War, his favorite phrase, “GODDAMNIT!” was usually delivered at full volume.

It was only supposed to be a temporary job, but boot making appealed to me because I could create beautiful and colorful designs with sewing, knives, and hammers.


Lisa Sorrell The Way I am
  ”The Way I Am" by Lisa Sorrell

How do you find your customers?
I opened my own business, Sorrell Custom Boots, in 1996. Initially, I didn’t think any further than opening the doors and hoping customers would hear about me and order the intricate and colorful boots that I made for my husband and myself.

I caught the eye of Tyler Beard, a noted boot historian, and collector who was working on his second book about cowboy boots entitled Art of the Boot. Tyler featured four boots from our personal collection and suddenly those were the type of boots I was being asked to build.

LisaSorrell Drifting and dreaming
"Drifting and Dreaming" by Lisa Sorrell

That was my first introduction to the power of marketing. I’m not a cowboy and can’t pretend to be one, and I have very few customers who are cowboys. While I build a traditional cowboy boot, my own personal philosophy is that cowboy boots are a way for men to wear high heels and bright colors.
Who are your customers?

My typical client is a businessman, often one who enjoys western art and owns a second home somewhere in the West.


Lisa Sorrell Come early morning
   "Come Early Morning" by Lisa Sorrell


How did you develop your niche market?
I choose the venues I attend very carefully. I put a lot of time into thinking about who my typical client is, and who I want him/her to be. I don’t select events at random, I choose events where that client is likely to be.

 I particularly enjoy introducing cowboy boots to new markets.
In the past few years I’ve done the Baltimore Craft Show, the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, Illinois, and the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C. These aren’t areas where one would typically imagine cowboy boot wearers to be, but in my way of thinking that simply means a whole show full of people who don’t know they want cowboy boots yet.

When I go to shows these are the types of boots my husband and I wear.  They’re types of boots I have on display in my booth, and they’re well represented in my portfolio. I position myself to attract the client I want and to encourage him or her to order the type of boots I love to build. I prefer making intricate and colorful boots and I like to use exotic leathers.


Lisa Sorrell Cherokee Fiddle
Cherokee Fiddle by Lisa Sorrell


How do customers influence the commissions?
Since each pair of boots is a commission, the client has a large part in each design decision. Some clients choose from a portfolio of work, some request small changes in colors or patterns that result in new designs, and others bring drawings or ideas to be translated into a personal and wearable piece of art. This element of collaboration is the beginning. After the client takes the boot and wears them they begin to also take on the shape and personality of the owner, completing the partnership.


How do you structure your commissions?
I build two to three pairs of boots per month. The waiting time is usually around one year. Boot prices start at $3500, with additional charges for designs or exotic leathers.

A deposit of half reserves a spot on the calendar and the second half is due during the month the boots are being built before they’re shipped. An order form filled out by hand, detailing all leather, color, and design choices avoids problems. This form filled out in triplicate (one for the client, two for my files) is a record of each decision and it’s proven to be an invaluable part of the ordering process.

Do you make exhibition/competition designs?

I prefer to make competition pieces for either my husband or myself following my own taste.  My boots have won awards for best artist in both Art to Wear and Leather categories at the Western Design Conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Other awards include the Founder’s Award at the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, Illinois, Bronze Award winner at the Smithsonian Craft Show in Washington, D.C., and a Gold Medal in shoe-making competitions in both Wiesbaden, Germany, and Rotterdam, the Netherlands.


More information about Lisa Sorrell boots:

Lisa enjoys speaking, teaching, and promoting the craft of boot-making. She regularly updates her Facebook page with photos and explanations of ongoing work in the shop; clients who are having boots built can watch as their boots are made. She also has a YouTube channel where she posts videos of boot-making. 

This post was updated on March 19, 2022, to provide current links.

<div style="width:425px" id="__ss_8462501"> <strong style="display:block;margin:12px 0 4px"><a href="" title="Niche Marketing from SNAG PDS 2011" target="_blank">Niche Marketing from SNAG PDS 2011</a></strong> <iframe src="" width="360" height="270" frameborder="0" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" scrolling="no"></iframe> <div style="padding:5px 0 12px"> View another <a href="" target="_blank">webinar</a> from <a href="" target="_blank">Harriete Estel Berman</a> </div> </div>

Can Photos of Your Work Compete When Surrounded by Visual Pollution?

This photo is a great metaphor. The wires pull in all directions. It is an example of our "visually polluted climate dense with optical smog" (quoted from Suzanne Ramljak's lecture in Photography in Flux- Editor's Perspective.) We look at, look through, look around, and/or simultaneously overlook these kinds of scenes every day.

Can the photos of your art or craft work compete with the exceptional images on consumer packaging, in advertising, magazines, signs, billboards, television, and online?

What makes a good photo for our art or craft?
In the past, the graduated gray background was the standard. Now some makers prefer complete white or solid black backgrounds for the photos of their work. The influence of the highly charged images in advertising includes colored backgrounds.

Black and White Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman Black and White Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel Berman & W Black and White Identity Bead Necklace by Harriete Estel BermanWhat is a fabulous photo? Is there a new standard? We all want one direction, one recommendation, one correct answer.


REALITY CHECK: There is no ONE answer for everyone. No straight path to exceptional.


A photo of your work needs to fit the art/craft and the situation.

The style of the photo for art and craft needs to fit BOTH the style of the work and the context. One photo is unlikely to fit all situations. If your photo goes beyond the standard graduated background using white, black, colored, a stylized background, or a model, the context for the photographic image becomes even more important.


The key issue:
Does the photo convey the message intended or is the intended message distracted, confusing, or lost?

Other factors to make your photo amazing . . .

Is the composition dynamic?

Is the image of the work memorable?

Does the image describe work accurately?

What other criteria would you add?

Send me one photo of your art or craft.
Describe the audience for your work and the context for using the photo. Let's talk.

P.S. All images above by Philip Cohen, Oakland CA.

PPS. This discussion also assumes that the focus is perfect and exposure is 100% correct.

This post was updated on February 27,2023
Philip Cohen photographing my installation Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin. Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

Professional Development Information - Live, Online, and In Person

Yikes"Pencil in" professional development to boost your career with free information.  Two opportunities, the first, an ONLINE interview, and the second, an in-person discussion in SAN FRANCISCO.

Andy Cooperman, Harriete Estel Berman, and Brigitte Martin in conversation took place on Thursday, April 5th, on ‘Metalsmith BenchTalk on BlogTalkRadio’ with Jay Whaley.
Audience members can listen to the archived podcast.

San Francisco
PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES: Questions and Commentary with Andy Cooperman and Harriete Estel Berman  
Monday, April 16, 2011.
(More information below.)


The details:

BlogtalkradioONLINE podcast with Cooperman,  Brigitte Martin, and me, Harriete Estel Berman as we open pandora's box of shipping problems and solutions. Originally broadcast on Thursday, April 5th we discuss the upcoming shipping topic for the Professional Development Seminar that will be held during the SNAG Conference.




SNAGlogoThe 2011 SNAG Professional Development Seminar program can be viewed online at any time. The original PPT slides with audio as presented at the 2010 Conference have had over 22,000 views! The program from 2010 has had nearly 10,000 views.! Find the podcasts and handouts with presentations on the SNAG website.


Professional Practices in San Francisco
GuestArtistSeries2012v2.72Professional Practices with Andy Cooperman and Harriete Estel Berman included a short presentation by Andy and myself. Then we will jump right into questions and answers by asking each other a couple of tough questions about the "road to success".

This event occurred on Monday, April 16th at the Academy of Art University
sponsored by the Academy of Art and the San Francisco Metal Arts Guild. 

This program was videotaped and will be available as a video presentation check back, and I will let you know how to find it.


This post was updated on March 12, 2022.

Links to information mentioned on Jay Whaley Blog Talk Radio with Harriete Estel Berman

On January 5, 2012, I was live with Jay Whaley Blog Talk Radio

Below are links to information that was mentioned on the radio show. A one-stop resource for our conversation.

If we mentioned anything that isn't listed here, let me know.

Normally, I don't show a link in the text,  but it is listed here so you can copy the text easily and share it with a friend.

Let me know if you need anything else.
What's on your mind?


PencilPoint3763closeup72“Pencils Make a Point” in American Craft  Magazine is a two-page centerfold featuring the very personal and political side of Craft. Harriete Estel Berman worked for four years collecting pencils from all over the United States and internationally as a  commentary about the impact of standardized testing on education. The bell curve curtain is 15’ ht and 28’ wide.
Read this informative article from the December/January 2012 issue of American Craft online:

Amercan Craft Article Pencils Make a Point about pencil sculpture.

Do you wonder "How This Article in American Craft Came to Be" featured in American Craft magazine?   Lots more is happening including the beginning of a new video about this work, tune in to find out more.


Alyssa Endo working on the pencil sculpture on the floor.kng8.24.2010_72Are you interested in learning about the assembly of this bell curve of pencils? There is an extended page on my website with images of the fabrication from the last four years showing.



TuBishvatOlivegreenonly72.800.7481Are you interested in the design and fabrication of Harriete Estel Berman’s work in tin cans? She recently finished new work for a show at the Contemporary Jewish Museum that opens in February.  Along the way, she created a Flickr album so you can view, step by step how Harriete designed this Seder Plate from concept through every step in the fabrication.
View the finished work on her website at:


Symposiumflyer_1000WEB Forging Communities






The essence of success by Sienna Patti

The Difference Between a Goal and a Wish by Brigitte Martin




Did you know that the SNAG 2011 
Professional Development Seminar
is available online?
Recorded during the Houston SNAG Conference you can watch and listen to all six segments on the SNAG Professional Development Seminar page.

This informative programming is available online at no charge courtesy of the NEA, MJSA, and SNAG.

Issues include:

  • How to develop new markets for your work.
  • Ideas for marketing your work and visibility for your blog.
  • The importance of photography in marketing.
  • Are new standards emerging for photographic images?
  • Are the images representing your work well crafted and compelling?
  • What makes a good cover photo?
  • What camera features should I look for before I buy?
  • What are the ethics of Photoshopping images of my work?
  • Who owns the rights to the photograph?
  • What kind of "master image" should my photographer provide?

Additional discussion of all topics continues on ASK Harriete:
Here are the links to individual topics:
Niche Marketing link

Digital Images File Extensions

Photography in Flux – Three photographers

Digital Photography Handouts

Photography in Flux – Editor’s Perspective

How to Build a Better Drop Shadow

Professional Development Seminar 2010

Not Just Another Pricing Lecture

This post was updated on February 18, 2022, to provide current links.

How This Article in "American Craft" Came to Be.

Amercan Craft  Article  about Harriete Estel Berman sculpture from pencils about the impact of standardized tests on education

When I see something amazing happen for a fellow artist or maker, I wonder how it happened or what they did to make that happen.  Do you wonder the same thing?

Recently, my work was featured in American Craft Magazine -- two pages in the Craft in Action section about Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin. While there was an increment of good fortune, it was years of making, along with taking everyday actions that readers of ASK Harriete could implement for greater visibility for their work.

In this case, a quote of Louis Pasteur comes to mind, "Chance favors only the prepared mind."

Since I knew that this project was going to take several years, I started a page on my website very early in the project to document each stage.

Harriete Estel Berman web site about Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin

The website was updated frequently with pictures of work in progress.

Harriete Estel Berman drilling pencils for pencil sculpturecril Harrietedrilling

I also posted a link to this page on the home page of my website (shown below). The link was an eye-catching yellow of #2 pencils.

Harriete Estel Berman web site

While there are no guarantees for anything in life, the article in American Craft came about in part because of the ongoing four years of communicating each milestone of the project.  I took the time to give the project visibility on my website.

It seems Julie K. Hanus, Senior Editor of American Craft Magazine, is like many editors who "troll" the web for ideas, information, and new work whenever they have a chance. I heard the same comment from Marthe Le Van, Editor at Lark Books in the presentation she gave during the Professional Development Seminar.

The lesson learned here is that your website is a window to the world for people to see your work. While I use many other social networking platforms....your website is paramount.  Even though I would wonder how many people were looking at my website, all the work that I put into my website did matter after all!

Pencil  Point in pencil sculpture by Harriete Estel Berman

The article in American Craft happened because of hard work and my website!

Harriete sharpening pencils  for sculpture about educationr

My words of wisdom to everyone is that YOUR WEBSITE IS YOUR MOST VALUABLE TOOL to promote your work.

Learn how to update and maintain your website.

Update your website regularly.


This post was updated on February 16, 2022, to provide current links.


Forging Communities - Information, Blogging and Notes From an Intimate One Day Symposium for Networking and Information

ForgingCommunitiesTaraBranniganKindofStrangetumblrForging Communities - An Intimate One-Day Symposium was an amazing success. Sponsored by the Metal Arts Guild of San Francisco in honor of its 60th Anniversary, a whole day of lectures, panels and discussions presented revealing, cohesive and interesting information.

Symposium flyer_1000WEBFor those interested in catching up on the information presented during the symposium, Tara Brannigan typed as fast as 10 fingers can move for the entire day. Her herculean typing efforts offer everyone a stream of information on Tumblr.



With this in mind, here is a quick summary of the information and links mentioned during the day.

Metal Rising: The Forming of the Metal Arts Guild, San Francisco, California, 1929-1964 presented by Jennifer Shaifer was followed by a conversation with Imogene Tex Gieling, merry renk, Florence Resnikov (each founding members of MAG). I wish we could have heard more of their entertaining stories. I loved looking at the vintage photos.

Margaret DePatta pendantFYI: There was an exhibition of jewelry by Margaret DePatta at the Oakland Museum titled, Space-Light-Structure: The Jewelry of Margaret de Patta in 2012.  You can see more of her work in the Oakland Museum collection.



Blue Moon sculpture
Artist: merry renk
MAG Permanent Collection

MAG founding member merry renk and Margaret de Patta also had work in an exhibition at the L.A. County Museum of Art titled, "California Design, 1930–1965: "Living in a Modern Way".  I really wanted to see this show (collecting objects from the 1950s and 1960s is my passion).


What does Success Look Like in the Jewelry World? with Sarah Turner, Brigitte Martin, Lola Brooks, Sienna PattiEach presentation covered the topic with a different style and original content. (More about this in another post.) I recommend that you take time to read Tara Brannigan's Tumblr post. Here are four quotes about success borrowed from Tumblr.

For me, success also includes the audience. I mean thinking partners, collaborators, people with skills that I do not have”

“When I say audience I also mean "field." A field with permeable boundaries” “That’s partly why I work in education” “Higher education is not the only platform, there are guilds and fablabs and craft shows and maker faires, and shops and museums.”
Sarah Turner


“I’ve always thought of success as some distant destination that someone might eventually arrive at” ....“I have always been far more interested in the splendor of the journey itself”
Lola Brooks


Aladdin-s-magic-lamp-thumb11169476 “I just want to clearly state what a goal for success actually is, because I think there’s a big problem people have with understanding: I think there’s a difference between a goal and a wish.
Brigitte Martin


“One day I went over to visit [Eric Carle] and he told me to wait downstairs, that we should go out. He got in my car and we were off.  He just had to get out of the studio.  He said he was depressed and needed to get out.  His new book wasn’t going well and he was stressed out.“

Eric Carle the-very-hungry-caterpillar-01“I was totally horrified.  It felt so personal to me.  He was a grown-up and I was still young enough to believe that this sort of thing just went away when you got older.”

“And this to me is the essence of success: Getting up and getting on, moving onwards and upwards.”
Sienna Patti


 Professional Practices: Conversation, Questions, & Commentary with me, Harriete Estel Berman, and Andy Cooperman via Skype. Co-president emiko oye said, “It’s kind of an Oprah moment, we’re Skyped in with Andy Cooperman”.

Unlike a mere mortal on stage, Andy's voice filled the room as if he were an immortal god. The audience asked their questions and participated in the conversation.

My presentation "Lighting Shiny Surfaces for Quality Photographic Images" in 16 steps will be the next post on ASK Harriete.

Here are the RESOURCES mentioned during my presentation:

Professional Guidelines

ASK Harriete

Professional Development Seminar

Digital Images File Extensions

Photography in Flux – Three photographers

Digital Photography Handouts

Photography in Flux – Editor’s Perspective

How to Build a Better Drop Shadow

Questions and Answers about Niche Marketing and Photography in Flux

Maker-faire-2008The Maker Faire Phenomenon – Engaging Community and the Next Generation of Makers with Dale Dougherty (Founder of Make: Magazine and Maker Faire) enthusiastically showed videos of invention, inspiration, and creativity. There was also a more serious message about the profound importance of brainstorming and hands-on problem-solving in education.

GarthJohnsonpaintguncermaic paint The Extreme Craft Roadshow presented by Garth Johnson was full of surprises. Craft that you might have never expected. Garth really went out of his way to show examples of what he considered Extreme Craft at the Oakland Museum. I think that this inclusiveness is part of his key to success. So many curators go around with judgment and a critical eye, whereas Garth goes to the opposite extreme, literally, finding the wacky and extra-ordinary. He left our audience with open eyes to the possibility of the future in Craft.

This post was updated on February 15, 2022, to provide current links.




Plan The "Money Shot" Photograph of Your Art or Craft.

As mentioned in the previous post, Use Your Camera As An Impartial Opinion - A Third Eye, I reviewed ways to get a fresh perspective on your work while the making is in progress. Your digital camera is a quick, easy, and effective tool for impartially looking at your work.

Here is another valuable use of your camera while your work is in progress... TuBishvat Seder plate in progress by Harriete Estel BermanYiBish

Use your camera to experiment for the final photographic images of your work.

While I am constructing my work, I am also planning the "money shot" or final image after completion.  The "money shot" is what my photographer, Philip Cohen, considers the one superlative image that best captures the essence of the piece; the one image that will be used most often to represent this piece for gallery and exhibition applications and likely be used on postcards, announcements, or in the exhibition catalog.

TuBishvat Seder plate by Harriete Estel Berman in progress from a different angle.jV

While you are most intimately engaged with a piece, right from the very beginning, start thinking about and planning this all-important image. Think about the angles of your work along with the theme and content. Think about what you want this photo to say. Don't wait until the last minute behind the camera to make this decision.


It is a bit of an eye-opener when we think about this: 
More people will see the photographic images of your work
than those who will ever see the work in person

Once you realize this fact, the photographs of your work take on much more significance.  So, think about your money shot in advance.


Artists usually have a mental vision of such an image.  In reality, when a camera lens can only take one image at a time, it can be difficult to predict exactly which angle or shot will come close to capturing that mental expectation.  But a little planning and experimentation will help.       


Take test shots.
As the work nears completion, take test shops to experiment with the best vantage points and angles that capture the most information.


Where should your camera be to capture the best part of the piece? Where should the viewer's gaze be to emphasize the most interesting aspects? What vantage point captures the theme or concept of the work?


As an exercise, scroll back to the top of this post and look at the photos of my Seder plate in progress.

The last four photos in this post were all test shots that I took quickly on a Sunday morning. The black background isn't the best for this piece, but a small black art table in the kitchen was the perfect size to set up the Seder plate and walk around taking some quick shots....pick your favorite position and your favorite photo.  Then continue from here to see the final "money shot" below.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Remember, 90% of the time this image will be the one image that will represent the work. Catalogs, magazines, publicity, postcards,....and more will use this one shot over and over.

Below is the money shot from photographer Philip Cohen.

HB SEDER Plate 2011 San Plex
What do you think? Ideas? Comments?


Previous posts related to this topic:

Guidelines and Tips for Working with Photographers - Handout by Doug Yaple from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar

Finding a photographer? Working with your photographer? Getting the shot you want.

This post was updated on February 11, 2022.

Hula Hooping, Jumping Through Hoops and Improving Your Business Practices

HarrietePOLARpanorama beach WEB
Harriete at the New Jersey Shore. Polar panoramic by Aryn Shelander.

The last days of summer are over. 
Our family vacation to the beach was cut even shorter by Hurricane Irene.

The fall season is the time to renew our dedication to our work. The business of art and craft can seem like jumping through hoops. So much to learn, so much to do.  It is just like learning how to hula hoop. It takes practice and a little encouragement to keep that hoop going. 


HarrieteHulaHooping with Aryn
I've learned lots of tricks. So can you, if you practice.


The SNAG Professional Development Seminar offers numerous lectures and handouts created especially for Artists and Makers who want to learn how to jump through the hoops of art and craft business practice. Learn from seasoned professionals and go with proven ideas.



TIME TO OPEN YOUR laptop or tablet to CHECK OUT these resources:  

Digital Images - File Extensions (2011)

Niche Marketing for Artists and Makers (2011)

Photography in Flux - Three Photographers' Opinions (2011)

Photography in Flux - Editors Perspective (2011)

Photoshop Tutorial - How to Build a Better Drop Shadow (2011)

Niche Marketing and Photography in Flux Q&A with Audience/Speakers (2011)

Not Just Another Pricing Lecture Video (2010)

Not Just Another Pricing Lecture Handout (2010)

Submitting Work to Galleries & Retail Establishments Part 1  HANDOUT (2009)

Submitting Work to Galleries & Retail Establishments Part 2 HANDOUT (2009)

Submitting Work to Galleries & Retail Establishments Part 3 HANDOUT (2009)

Submitting Work to Galleries & Retail Establishments Part 4 HANDOUT (2009)

New Marketing Trends Resource List HANDOUT (2008)

Navigating The Web 2.0 HANDOUT (2008)

Artists Opening Galleries HANDOUT (2008)

Commissions HANDOUT(2007)


I'm doing a hula hoop trick called "Wild West."

Learn lots of tricks for improving your art/craft business practices. Read the archive of ASK Harriete columns in the left column. ASK Harriete your questions.


Subscribe to ASK Harriete for automatic updates or be my friend on Facebook.


NEXT Tuesday's post on ASK Harriete: Step-by-step examples for how I find exhibition opportunities for Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin.

This post was updated on February 9, 2022.


Make Work YOU WANT TO MAKE and then... THE WORK Will Find a SHOW

I have spent the afternoon reading Ask Harriete.  Oftentimes, I see a show I feel my work would fit into...due to the subject matter, title, etc., however, there is NOT enough time to create a piece and get it submitted in time.  After reading what you say in the Etsy Recycler's Guild interview of Harriete Estel Berman interview (from Etsy Recycler's Guild, I am surprised to see, that you most likely enter shows after the work is done. 

Or as you once told me, you shop the work around in order to find an exhibition space.  So, what can you offer to those of us who have the problem?  

Mary Anne Enriquez

Harriete Estel Berman standing near Measuring Compliance at the exhibition ManufracturedbstandingThis issue often causes artists and makers to feel overwhelmed.  Your schedule is already full and then an opportunity arises that would demand even more time. Who can just drop everything and start
                                                    something new?

Although I do make work for some shows (and will show some examples in the next post on ASK Harriete),  I prefer to make work that I want to make based on my long-term goals.

I recommend that all artists and makers make the work they want to make.


Measuring Compliance Poster
Measuring Compliance Poster
portrays sculpture by the same title.
Measuring Compliance © 2006
Recycled materials, 3rd-grade desk,
3rd-grade chair, banners, custom made
straight jacket, yardstick, rulers.
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

It is the artist's or maker's responsibility to bring important or significant ideas to fruition without the dictates of a theme, exhibition, or invitation. Maybe these ideas are big, expensive, demanding, or even scary. So what if it takes a year or more to finish because you have to put it down, work on your day job, or do other artwork that makes money. Just keep working with the big goals in mind.

If you wait for a show invitation to start making something big or important, you may never get around to creating significant artwork. Too often, I have heard artists expressing disappointment that they didn't get invited to be part of a particular exhibition even though they had been thinking about making something that would have been "perfect" for the show.  Don't wait for a show to prompt the making . . .  start making.  By waiting to make something "for a show" ... they lost an opportunity.

The emphasis is on making work that is challenging, significant, and stands on its own . . .  not making work that fits into a show in a few weeks.   Make work that you will be proud of for a lifetime.  Sooner or later a show or some other opportunity will turn up that is right for your work -- not the other way around.

Alyssa Endo working on Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin HERE IS AN EXAMPLE:
I just finished the project Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin.
It took the better part of five years. I often had to put it away until  I had time or help available to work on it.

Penci lBrotheres Pencils in Pick Up Your Pencils Begin by Harriete Estel Bermans582bellcurve

Most often, the bigger or high-risk projects aren't necessarily the ones that will sell, but they may become the "show stopper" that establishes your reputation years later.

Close up of Pencils fabrication Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin by Harriete Estel Berman Here is my real-life example.    The day before I finished Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin, a major magazine emailed me about writing an article on a topic highly relevant to this work! Wow!!!!! They need photos of the installation, so now I need to find an exhibition space.

This wasn't magic. I have also been working on documenting the construction of this artwork, writing about it on my website, Facebook, blog, Crafthaus, and other social networking sites.

Website for Harriete Estel Berman The editor had become aware of this project from my website. I've had a link on my home page ever since I started the project.

Apparently, editors and writers spend some of their time "trolling"  the internet for ideas and new work. Marthe Le Van, editor for Lark Books talked about this during her presentation for the Professional Development Seminar. A lesson to all of us to keep making our work, documenting our progress, never give up...steady progress wins the race!

MAKE WORK YOU WANT TO MAKE and then... find an exhibition space.

Does anyone know of an exhibition space for Pick UP Your Pencils, Begin?

I'd love to hear your ideas! There are 3-4 weeks before the article goes to press.


You can see the documentation of Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin on my website.

NEXT POSTS on ASK Harriete:

  • Is it fruitless to even think of creating something fast to get into a show?
  • How Do You Find Exhibition Opportunities For Finished Work?

This post was updated on February 9,  2022.

Behind the Camera: Secrets Revealed in a PhotoShoot with a Model

A photographic image with a model is the most challenging photo session ever. It takes at least three, preferably four, people at a minimum. Take my word for it.

Below are two sets of recent photos, one the "money shot" followed by the "behind the scenes" reality.

Money Shot #1

Photo shoot of Aqua necklace, photo by Alyssa Endoq

Now a behind-the-scenes revelation. We had five people working; the model, photographer, stylist/lighting, gaffer, and documentary photographer. The day we took the photos was less than ideal as it was very windy, and getting windier, but we wanted to be outside with natural light. We had to make it work! Everyone had already scheduled the four-hour time slot. 

photo by Alyssa Endo as we fix the model's
Photo by Alyssa Endo      Model Jen Ohara

We were all fussing over the model. Even so much as one hair out of place looks terrible in a photo. I must have put a ton of hairspray on the model's hair. The jewelry photos are filled with warm glowing sunlight, but in fact, we were all freezing including the model.

The photographer is leaning in to check exposure up close so the camera is not tricked by reflected light.

Below, two people (me and Ace Shelander) are both holding panels to bounce the light (indicated by white lines and arrows) onto the model. I am using a flexible hoop that is metallic on one side and white on the other. Ace has a white foam core board.

Photo by Alyssa Endo , the light bounces off bounce cardsg lilight EndoPHOTOshootaquabehindcameraboucinglight.
Photo by Alyssa Endo.

We also had two mirrors (outside of the camera's view) bouncing light into the eaves above the model. This showered the model from above with beautiful soft white light. On the ground, below the model, are large sheets of white foam core board bouncing light up into the eaves of the house.

Photo by Alyssa Endo shows a photo shoot of bracelet by Harriete Estel Bermanuabehindcamera800
Photo by Alyssa Endo.

The light bounced from the foam core is very white, soft, and subtle. This is why it works so well - no harsh shadows, just warm glowing light. Of course, because the sun keeps moving, you have to frequently move the mirrors and bounce cards to maintain the light.

Photos by Francois Duhamel © 2008
All Rights Reserved.

Bouncing light is not for the lighthearted. The entire movie, Revolutionary Road, with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet was filmed in a small Connecticut house. They constructed huge bounce cards to push soft white light from outside into a small house. (left photos)

To maintain the consistent feel of natural light outside the Connecticut house, giant 12' x 12' ultra bounce reflectors and large muslin sheets were arranged to bounce light into the scene.

 Photo by Alyssa Endo of photo shoot with bracelet by Harriete Estel Bermanshirt
Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

Everything counts for a great shot. So much can go wrong when using a model. Above, the shirt is too wrinkled. We are all looking at the angles of the model, the bracelet, the slightest angle of the hand, her fingers, wrist, arm, body, clothing, and jewelry. We tried to fix the shirt in the photo below.

Photo by Alyssa Endo as we fix the shirt during a photo shoot for jewelry by Harriete Estel Bermanrt
Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

The photographer, stylist, and gaffer are all responsible for spotting problems.


Money Shot #2

Jewelry by Harriete Estel Berman in a proposed Billboard formatBerman02
Photo by Alyssa Endo

I am using this amazing shot (above) for an outdoor billboard.  

Below, check out the reality.

Photo by Alyssa Endo

I had two jobs during this shoot, bouncing light onto the model while trying to "see" what the camera sees. The photographer only gets to look through the camera. The stylist and the assistants need to see what is going on around the model and the camera. What is happening with the light? Everything counts when doing a shoot with the model.


Money Shot #3

Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

In the above image of jewelry by emiko oye, the model glows serenely. The necklace looks fantastic! The reality was a lot less polished until we got it right.

Below, you can see how we were meticulously and precisely placing the necklace. Every link of the chain had to lay just right....or it looked terrible. We spent a lot of time, while the entire crew waited, trying to fix the necklace chain just right - so many shots were rejected because of the chain not laying right.

The model doesn't look too happy, the light is shining in her eyes.

Photo by Alyssa Endo

Here I am are taping the necklace to the back of the model with masking tape because it needed to lay a little higher on her chest. The light is glowing....but in fact, we were freezing (which is why the model is wearing sweat pants). It was getting more windy by the minute. The model had to stand in the shade while we bounced sunlight into the photo and into the model's eyes. The model can't let any of this show.

Money Shot #

Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

Look closely at the photo above, the bracelet looks like it is poking the model. We have to see this during the shoot and fix it.

Photo Credit: Alyssa Endo

We used a white sheet as the background. I ironed the sheet which we stretched and thumbtacked to the house, but it still had wrinkles. Next time I am going to try a sheet of white laminate.  

Look at the fabulous shot below.

Photo by Aryn Shelander of bracelet by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

Did you wonder why the model is not standing in the sun? If the model stood in the sun, the lighting would be too harsh with strong shadows. Soft, diffuse, and glowing light is one of the secrets to success.

There are a number of things you need for a photoshoot that don't cost much, but help lead to success. Stay tuned for the next post.


This post was updated on February 9, 2022.

HOT TOPICS! Questions From the Audience at the Professional Development Seminar

The AUDIENCE asked the questions that they wanted to be answered! The energy was immediate and electric! The questions are on target for what artists and makers deal with every day. 

The discussion was further sparked by the interlaced perspectives and recommended strategies of the Niche Marketing and Photography in Flux speakers during the 2011 SNAG Professional Development Seminar.


Below are TWO SAMPLE QUESTIONS that came up during the PDS Lunch Discussion

Camera "What camera should I buy?  There are so many, it is kind of confusing."
"There is a growing number of digital cameras out there. Rather than suggesting specific brands," Roger Schreiber suggests "looking for 'certain features.'  It is absolutely important that you be able to control the focus, that you be able to control the aperture, and you be able to control the shutter speed. You should be able to tell the camera what color balance you want to use. And all the major manufacturers make those kinds of cameras. You should also be able to shoot in RAW. You don't necessarily have to have interchangeable lenses."

"I would totally ignore Megapixels. More pixels don't necessarily make for a better photograph.  I would think in terms of the size of the sensor. There are some cameras with full-size sensors."

Camerasensor_sizes "Look at the features and look at the sensor size.  "Point and shoot" cameras have an absolute tiny sensor in them that is less than 1/2" across. Some are packed with 14 megapixels. You are never going to see the details and shadows without a larger sensor. The handout by Roger Schreiber [Download Schreiber_Photo resources] lists a number of websites. "A couple of them will lead you to sites with camera reviews."

Do some research first. Learn what the terms RAW and sensor mean [so you understand the features described in the camera reviews].

emiko oye suggests renting a camera and lenses from your local camera store for a day. You don't need to spend $5,000 to get a professional camera. Her favorite lens is a 24 mm to 104  mm (which is like a portrait lens).  She adds, "jewelers should definitely buy a macro lens."

Boxes "How do you decide which work should be photographed by a professional photographer?"
Doug Yaple advises, "Look at your work and pick out the strongest pieces. If you have a really low budget,... pick out the five strongest pieces. And if you want, when you go to the photographer, take more than that, and talk about them ALL with the photographer. See what will translate into [the best] image. It may not be the piece you think. Work it down to fit your budget and then use those images as long as you can."
ApplesONE ROTTEN Christopher Conrad says: "Only use the images that are good. If you put out poor images of your work, it reflects on your work. If you can only afford two good shots, only put up two good shots. Don't put up five bad ones."

Hilary Pfeifer says: "I think it takes a lot of time when you're first starting out from school to get a good body of pictures. I remember it felt like four or five years for me until I could pick from the cream of the crop, but it is an investment. It's a really, really important investment to have professional photographers take the most important pieces."

Many more great questions . . . .
are a few highlights from the lunch discussion.

Questionsmarksline Is there a new standard emerging for photographic images?

What are the ethics of PhotoShopping your work images? Where do you draw the line between taking out dust specks and filling in a solder gap?

Who owns the rights to the photograph? What about "use fees" for a cover shot?

What kind of "master image" should you receive from your photographer?

Where do you find your market?  Etsy, websites, or traditional galleries?

Ideas for marketing your work and visibility for your blog.



* The following documents came up in the PDS Lunch Discussion:

Model Release Contract in the Professional Guidelines.

Roger Schreiber Photo resources with photography links.

Handout for the Photography in Flux speakers.

DIGITAL IMAGES File Extensions a quick tutorial
PPT and HANDOUT.Digital Images from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar

This post was updated on February 9, 2022, to provide current links.

Is There A New Standard in Photographic Documentation of Art and Craft?

This is the critical question Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin and I were trying to figure out when we organized the program Photography in Flux for the Professional Development Seminar.

Is there a new photographic standard emerging in the photographic documentation of art and craft?


After an entire morning of excellent PowerPoint presentations, Andy Cooperman asked the first question at the Professional Development Seminar lunch discussion,

"Is there a new photographic standard emerging?

BananaRepublicCASUAL "What I have been calling verity," sometimes called authentic,  "grunge meets Etsy, meets D.I.Y.. Companies like Banana Republic are spending a lot of money to look spontaneous."

MVearringsMarthe Le Van, Editor of Lark Books had an articulate response that captured the morning, "I think rather than a [new] standard, it is an expansion of the boundaries." "Rather than changing standards, they are just expanding." It has to be looked at on a "case by case situation, when it works, I think it works really well, but some- times it doesn't work." 

Photographer Christopher Conrad added, "also more people are doing their own shots. So one out of 99 might really work."

RogerSchrieberJimMongrain Roger Schrieber, a professional photographer, continued the conversation with a reference to his theater background. "There is the old theater adage, if it works leave it in. I approach photo shoots with the artists not focusing on the latest trends, but I want to shoot the best picture I can of that art."

Hanna Hedman Photo Credit Sana Lindberg Marthelevanmodelwithfish
Jewelry by Hanna Hedman
Photo Credit: Sanna Lindberg
Photo shown during Marthe Le Van PPT

"And the art usually tells me what it wants to look like. I was really impressed with the photographs that Marthe was showing us from Sweden. Very, very interesting stuff, but there are a lot of juries that wouldn't want to see that, but you've got to know what the juries want to see. You have to read your mail. You have to know what the juries are looking for. If that works, do it."


The above comments were taken from the recorded audio of the Professional Development Seminar. I have listened to all the lectures and discussions very carefully.  For hours I edited the audio recordings minute by minute. I learned so much from the speakers.


While it is pretty scary to dictate absolute standards,
I think some suggestions might help artists and makers veer away from mistakes toward better photographs of their art and craft.

So here are photo recommendations:



AVOID WRINKLED OR DRAPED FABRIC. It looks over-stylized and like a manufactured jewelry ad.

AVOID TEXTURED OR EMBOSSED PAPER. The background becomes distracting.

BACKGROUNDS SHOULD NOT HAVE A THEME . . . such as water, water-washed rocks, sand, moss, or leaves. These backgrounds distract attention away from the work and tend to look commercial at best.  Thematic backgrounds rarely translate well in a juried situation.

COLORED BACKGROUNDS SHOULD BE USED WITH CAUTION. It can be eye-catching or inappropriate. Think about three issues before adding color backgrounds: the work, the audience, and the color. It needs to be the perfect combination. While colored backgrounds may be fine for something fun such as a postcard special graphic, or online marketing they can look out of place in other contexts. Another problem with colored backgrounds is that they can look dated. The trend-setting color for the decade, screams passé in a few years. Avoid colored backgrounds if this is your only professional-quality shot. Your photos need to be an investment with a timeless quality.

BLACK BACKGROUNDS ARE VERY CHALLENGING. Many people think that black backgrounds are automatically a good choice for light, white or silver work. The reality is that most black backgrounds look like a black hole with no shadows except in the hands of the most skilled photographer. If you want black, lay down a sheet of glass on top of the black background to soften the appearance and create a subtle reflection.  Another option is dark gray instead of black as a safer choice.

A FINAL WORD OF ADVICE. The competition for people’s attention is enormous. The general public has become far more sophisticated in judging quality photography by seeing professional-quality photos every day in advertising, books, magazines, and online. The quality of the photo is the perceived quality and status of the art or craft.  Your image sends a very powerful message. Make it the best messenger possible for your work.

Two documents in the Professional Guidelines may help you with your images.



Facebook Crafthaus Are you wondering if your images are good enough? Would you like me to look at your images? Contact me through Facebook or Crafthaus. It is an easy way to share your images with me. Maybe we can work together to improve your images? ASK Harriete

This post was updated on February 8, 2022.

Photography in Flux Editors' Perspective - Are You Creating a Captivating Image?

Photography in Flux - Editors Perspective starts with Suzanne Ramljak, Editor of Metalsmith Magazine, writer, and curator. It continues with Marthe Le Van, Editor of Lark Books. The recorded program is now available for you to hear online with the original Powerpoint from the SNAG Conference.

As I edited the audio from the SNAG 2011 Professional Development Seminar I hung onto every word. I learned a lot about the editors' perspective on the qualities of the best photos, and mistakes they see every day.

Visual pollutionSR
This newsstand is an example of visual pollution in our "media-saturated culture". Suzanne Ramljak, Editor of Metalsmith Magazine, presented this as an establishing image in her lecture for Photography in Flux

How appropriate for a magazine editor to consider how the magazine competes on the newsstand with many other publications, candy, and packaging, all at the same time.


Did you ever think about how photos of your artwork compete with the "5,000 ads" people look at every day?


Irving Penn stilllife
  Irving Penn still life photo

Suzanne Ramljak offered many fabulous quotes:
"The still life photographer makes the photo as compared to takes the photo."  

Are you making the photos of your artwork fantastic, or are you merely taking a photo? Ramljak reinforces that "artists need to create a captivating image."

"There is no neutral background in a photo."

"Artists need a captivating image to compete with the visual noise without sacrificing the integrity of the object."

Botticelli compilation
Click for more examples of The Art of the Reproduction online.

Suzanne declares: "The web poses new challenges. Anything can happen to your images and does." Just consider this compilation of the painting, Birth of Venus, by Botticelli. Each square is from a different website. The variances represent the half-truths, misrepresentations, and lack of control artists, photographers, and editors have when images leave their computers and travel at the speed of light on the Internet.

Marthe Le Van_72 The Photography in Flux - Editors Perspective continues with Lark Books Editor, Marthe Le Van. Among the many issues addressed were the questions: What is a good cover photo? Is there a national, European, Asian, or international style to jewelry photography? 

MartheLeVancrossplatformimages Getting down to the nitty-gritty of photos on the Internet, Marthe confronts us with the reality of small postage stamp size images on a gallery website or social networking site. Do the photos of your art or craft have a strong enough graphic quality to get a viewer to click through on the image?

500 SilverJewelryDesigns Le Van answered a question that I have always wanted to know. What makes a good cover shot? What do you think? 

Earrings by Beate Klockmann  from the
book 21st Century Jewelry edited by
Marthe Le Van

 Is it possible to break all the rules and still have a great photo?

What are your questions? Can ASK Harriete offer answers? Open the discussion.

Listen and learn from the opinions and experiences of both of these experienced editors in Photography in Flux.


This post was updated on February 8, 2022, to provide current links.

Jewelry on the Model - Skin, Skin, Skin

Marthe Le Van, Editor of Lark Books, says that the best background for jewelry is skin, skin, skin!!!! By this, she means that jewelry on the model produces a very effective photo.

21st Century Jewelry book includes jewelry by PeterHodgeboom
Spanish Collar by Peter Hoogeboom; Photo by Henni Van Beek

During Le Van's lecture for the Professional Development Seminar, she showed some of her favorite images with models from the new book, 21st Century Jewelry, The Best of the 500 Series. In this post on ASK Harriete, I have borrowed a few images from her PowerPoint and offer a preview to next Tuesday's post.

21st Century Jewelry book includes jewelry by Jesse Mathes
Rebato by Jesse Mathes; Photos by Michael Cavanagh & Kevin Montague

Next Tuesday, ASK Harriete will include the PowerPoint presentation with audio from the SNAG 2011 Professional Development Seminar. You can see Marthe Le Van's and Suzanne Ramljak's Powerpoint and hear the audio recording from the 2011 SNAG Conference.

Hear what both editors have to say about the best and worst photographic images. What makes a good cover shot? What is the future of print?

 21st Century Jewelry book includes jewelry by  Seainin Passi
Resin Droplet Neckpiece by Seainin Passi; Photo by Richard Boll

Marthe Le Van said that a book of photographs with page after page of standard photographic backgrounds would be really boring. The model shot brings jewelry to life and a more exciting book!

21st Century Jewelry book includes jewelry bykayo Saito
Floating Brooch by Kayo Saito;

When I first saw her lecture in May, I had not seen the book 21st Century JewelryNow sitting on my desk, this is the most beautiful jewelry book to date from Lark Books and a must for EVERYONE interested in contemporary jewelry.

21st Century Jewelry book The range of jewelry goes from traditional gold and diamonds to irreverent plastic, crotchet, and found materials. No matter your inclination or interest, you will find examples that will excite your passion for jewelry.

The embossed hardcover of the book focuses on the book as a precious object in itself.

Rebecca Hannon
Camino de Santiago by Rebecca Hannon

On occasion a model is the only way to show work effectively as in the body adornment by Rebecca Hannon (above photo).


"How to make a rabbit from a sock" to
"how to make a necklace from a frock"
Fran Allison © 2004-2005
Fabric, silver, steel cable, resin.
Photo Credit: Deborah Smith

However, nothing is more challenging than getting a great photo with the model. So much can go wrong; hair, make-up, clothing, eyes, mouth, posture, hands, jewelry placement, plus all the usual issues of background and lighting. The list goes on...


 21st Century Jewelry book includes jewelry by Lori Talcott
Mardoll II by Lori Talcott; Photo by Doug Yaple

Stay tuned for a future post on ASK Harriete about using the model
with tips for getting a better photograph. In the meantime, I can hardly wait to share Photography in Flux - Editors Perspective (next Tuesday). While editing the entire audio I heard it many times.  

21st Century Jewelry book includes jewelry by HarrieteEstelBerman
Bead Embellishment Bracelets by Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

In the interest of full disclosure: I was invited to be one of 85 guest jurors to select work for 21st Century Jewelry. Some of my descriptions and quotes were used in the book along with an image for three of my bracelets.


This post was updated on February 8, 2022, to provide current links.

Photography in Flux - 3 Photographers Offer Tips and Tricks for Quality Photos

BlueSpiralGraph.grDoug Yaple, Christopher Conrad, and Roger Schreiber all offered solid information with tips and tricks for producing quality photographic images of art and craft. Now EVERYONE can benefit by watching and listening to the same PowerPoint presentation given at the 2011 Professional Development Seminar during the SNAG Conference in Seattle.

Photolights Here are a couple of highlights from the photographers' commentary followed immediately by the presentation. "Learn how the visual language of photography can represent your work most effectively."


Doug Yaple.goblets
  Photo by Doug Yaple of glass goblets
  with a more "classical" approach to the


"The market and the audience should drive the decisions in how to photograph your work."

Ask yourself, "What is the image to be used for? Online advertising, articles in print, cover shots, jury submission?"

"Make the story come out in your photos."

Doug Yaple was very articulate in describing his photographic images and why they are so effective. Listen to the Photography in Flux presentation and learn.


ConradJewelry Final 6x4
Photos by photographer Christopher Conrad


Be careful about colored walls and mixed lighting sources when photographing your work.

He makes a couple of suggestions for bouncing light into the photographic image.

Conrad tells how.

Did you know that a "lower ISO reduces noise"? I didn't.

TIP 5. A TRICK FOR SHOOTING PAINTINGS, QUILTS, OR LARGE FLAT GEOMETRIC OBJECTS. It's so simple! Listen to Photography in Flux and learn. 




Roger Schreiber photo of work by Carol Gouthro
Close-up photographic image by Roger
Schreiber of ceramic work by Carol Gouthro

Photographer ROGER SCHREIBER says to ask yourself:
"Who is your audience?"
"Do you have enough time?"


He continues: "Everything that falls within the frame is part of the photograph. Shadows, highlights, and background are all part of the picture." He is so right. When looking at something in person, the human eye has a natural tendency to edit. The photographic image is another thing entirely. Everything has equal importance in the flattened picture frame. This makes even the tiniest flaw look like a major distraction. Here is an interesting article about the Camera vs. The Human Eye.



Finding a photographer? Working with your photographer? Getting the shot you want.


Berman Black White Bracelet from recycled plastic as jewelry from alternative material96
RECYCLE White w/Black © 2011
Post-consumer recycle plastic
Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
Photo Credit: Aryn Shelander

Deadlines for new opportunities are always on the horizon so there is no time like the present to prepare for future opportunities.

Are you ready with amazing, quality photographic images?


Roger Schrieber JimMongrain
Photo by Roger Schreiber
Glass by Jim Mongrain

Photographer Roger Schreiber says
: "Quality sells" and
"Remember more people see the photographic image of your work than ever see it in person."

Would you like to know the tips and tricks of a professional photographer?


Next Tuesday's post on ASK Harriete features
Photography in Flux.
 Recorded during the 2011 Professional Development Seminar this presentation with audio includes the three Seattle photographers who tell us how to create better photographic images. Stay tuned, put it on your calendar.

Harriete Estel  Berman WilliamsSonoma.72
 Williams Sonoma Bracelet
  from the California Collection

  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Your images need to be spectacular!

Wondering how to find a photographer?
Study the photos in the 500 Lark Books, top-quality publications, or look on the SNAG website for a list of photographers. Another idea is to contact local art schools for graduating photo students.

Bracelets by Harriete EStel Berman from recycled tin cans.WEB
   California Collection  © 2009
   Recycled tin cans
   Artist: Harriete Esetl Berman
   Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

Look for a photographer that takes great shots in your media, and style. You can also use the Professional Guidelines document titled, Guide to Professional Quality Images, to evaluate the photographer's portfolio before you ask them to photograph your work.


  California Collection © 2009
  Recycled tin cans, wood, paper
  Artist: Harriete Estel Berman
  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

WORK WITH your photographer.
By that I mean, discuss in advance the type of image you want, the angle of the piece, and the side or view that you prefer. Photographer Doug Yaple wrote an excellent handout for the Professional Development Seminar during the SNAG 2011 Conference titled, Guidelines and Tips for Working with Photographers. Download DougYaple

  Fulsome Game
  Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

I often make a sketch of the image that I have in mind for my photographer, Philip Cohen.  He is welcome to experiment with his own ideas, too, but I usually have a good idea of what I want to see in the final image and make every effort to make my expectations clear.

Fulsome Game by Harriete Estel Berman emiko oye suggests:
"If you aren't a skilled photographer (yet), best to hire a professional studio photographer and ask if you can observe the shoot. Some won't mind if you quietly look on while they shoot your pieces, but it's best to ask."

"Do your homework before your appointment and look at magazines and books for the type of shots that you are attracted to and bring these to the attention of your photographer so they know how to style your shots." Get the shot you want!
During the PDS, Doug Yaple said, "Don't overlook getting in tight to accent something critical."  Your detail image should be able to stand alone on its own merits AND be a companion image to your full view. Carefully consider the meaning, content, story, or inspiration behind the work and try to capture this in the detail photo. 

The time and money required to produce professional-quality images are relatively small in comparison to all the work you put into a finished piece.  It is an investment. The payoff comes from the free publicity, visibility, and long-term credibility that you can receive when you are included in an exhibition, book, or magazine!


Read GUIDE to PROFESSIONAL QUALITY IMAGES  in the Professional Guidelines

Find the photographer for your work.

Plan the photographic image while you make the work.

WORK WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER to get the best shot.

Photo Shoot using a model, jewelry by Harrite Estel Berman, photo credit: Alyssa Endo

Do you want to learn how to take your own photography?
Next Tuesday's post includes tips and tricks from three professional photographers from the Seattle 2011 Professional Development Seminar. RECYCLE  Braclet by Harriete Estel Berman photographed by Alyssa Endor, le le ELThey generously offer advice on how to improve your photography. Stay tuned, put it on your calendar or subscribe to ASK Harriete.


Shooting with a model:

Images to the above left show a recent photoshoot for my RECYCLE series. The top photo shows the entire team it takes to get a great model shot. Left is photographer Aryn Shelander. I am holding the reflector (right) but also worked as the stylist for the photoshoot. The model was Jen Ohara.  Both photos by documentary photographer Alyssa Endo. More information soon on important tips for shooting with a model.   

This post was updated on February 8, 2022.

NICHE MARKETING - 3 Presentations Offer Great Information

The Professional Development Seminar from the 2011 SNAG Conference was recorded and is available for listening and viewing!

Now you can see the same presentations and hear what our niche marketing experts had to say.  I enjoyed the real-time events but learned even more when I was editing the audio....and I think you will too! Here are a few highlights, (then scroll down for the presentation with audio).


Alexander Girard mid-20th century
dolls sold to adults were a stylistic
influence on Hilary Pfeiffer new line
of wedding toppers.
Photo from H.Pfeifer PowerPoint.

Our first speaker, Hilary Pfeifer, describes her "Bunny with a Tool Belt" line that keeps her going in this tough economy.

HPelephant Hilary explains that her childhood interests evolved into her wedding cake toppers sold on Etsy (left photos). She says these are among the few things that people keep and display in their homes after the wedding. Every one of her wedding cake toppers delights...check out success by looking at Bunny with a ToolBelt!


Next up, the Professional Development Seminar continues with emiko oye EMIKOWatch the presentation and take notes. No matter what your medium or style, emiko offers solid information that translates to success from gallery exhibitions to Etsy.

 Model  holding  bracelets made from Legos
emiko's TOP five tips
for Getting Your Business Out There!

1. Professional Quality Photography
This is THE MOST IMPORTANT TIP for getting exposure for your business. First impressions are everything so why not wow people's socks off from the get-go!

Emiko oye lego necklace 2. Take Risks Don't Get STUCK: Balance
Even though you may sell a ton of one design in one style, don't get stuck just putting all your focus on making the same thing over and over. 

Emiko Oye exhibition necklace from Legos necklace Balance: I'm a staunch believer in making important exhibition pieces (right images) as well as production, ready-to-wear. The exhibition work definitely helps sell the production work and gives broader exposure.

Ermikooyetireearrings 3. Take Note & Be Accessible
Pay attention to how people respond to your work, feedback helps define your niche market. Be Accessible: means have a web presence. As I've said in my lecture, "If you aren't online, you don't exist". Get involved in social media with Facebook, Twitter, and  Crafthaus.

Emiko Oye jewelry on a model
  All jewelry (above right) by emiko oye
  from repuprosed LEGOS
  The Tire Earrings are included in new
  Lark book 21st Century Jewelry

4. Be Ready Set Go!
When opportunity strikes, you must be ready with line sheets, images, bios, and artist statements. Flickr and your website are great for being ready for the press.

5. Get Involved.
While we love to hole ourselves up in the studio and make to our heart's content, it's important to get involved in your community, local, & national arts organizations.



Our third Niche Marketing speaker, Deb Stoner, has a multi-prong approach to support herself which includes teaching workshops onStonermhbc#1-1992 eyeglass fabrication, custom designing, and fabrication for Donna Karan, along with her jewelry & photography. She keeps it fresh by being open to opportunities. Read the Handout Deb created for the PDS about Niche Marketing.  Download DebStoner_Final




The Professional Development Seminar was organized by Andy Cooperman, Brigitte Martin, and myself, Harriete Estel Berman. We had a strong program brimming with information and over 500 attendees but the Internet offers the opportunity to share this programming with a much larger audience.
ASKHarrietePinkBlack Please feel empowered to share this YouTube presentation or post on ASK Harriete with your fellow artists and makers (with proper attribution, of course).  
Our sponsors include the NEA, National Endowment for the Arts, MJSA, and SNAG.  Stay tuned for more presentations with audio from our PDS programming.
This post was updated on February 8, 2022.
ASK Harriete Pin for Harriete Estel Bermanerr

Photography in Flux- Guidelines for Photos of Your Craft

DigitalImagesSlideShare The 2011 Professional Development Seminar in Seattle highlighted some of the shifting trends in photography. Artists and makers are looking beyond the photographic standards of the graduated gray background and blurring the line between craft images and product photography.  Yet regional and topical preferences – or biases – still exist.

RogerSchrieberJimMongrain For the PDS, three professional photographers and two editors were invited to bring their insights and discuss their opinions in front of an audience of 500 people.  The PDS committee (Andy Cooperman, Bridgitte Martin, and I) wanted to reveal any new standards and resolve the best choices for professional quality images.

ColorHilaryFpeiferetallbluebirds What we discovered is that there is no universal standard.  What works for one person’s work, may not work for another style of art or craft. What works for an online marketplace will not be a good choice for a juried show.  It is possible that the personal style of the work and the style of the photography may produce a signature style image.

Marthelevanmodelwithfish Does this sound confusing? Certainly, and all the emerging capabilities make photography more in flux than ever. Marthe Le Van, the editor from Lark Books, even went so far as to show rather unusual images of jewelry on the model (left image), and a few minutes later describe her idealized standard photo for the cover of a book. They are not the same.

Metalsmithcolorblue So even a best-case scenario with excellent quality work that is visually and conceptually appropriate for the cover of a book, a maker now has to consider different photos for other media that reflect varying degrees of personal style.

EMIKO It may be prudent to produce a range of professional quality images each of which could be appropriate for a particular situation or an intended audience.

A great publicity shot may be eye-catching with an unusual model or brightly colored background.  A great image for a juried show may not be the same as a fantastic image for publicity. 

ColorHilaryPfeiferelephant The photo to the left from Niche Marketing speaker Hilary Pfeifer is fabulous!  The photography matches the style of her work. Would this work for everyone? Definitely not. Does she use this photo for everything?  No. She also has images with a more neutral background.

Fantastic images are an investment in your work.

Roger Schreiber photo of work by Carol Gouthro
Here is what Roger Schreiber said about this photo of Carol Gouthro's work. "The question of a piece looking better in a photo than in "real" life comes up often when talking to artists. It's all about careful lighting and isolation. Isolating the artwork from surrounding distractions always makes anything look better. But it is still the same piece. Nothing has changed. Eliminating all the light and putting it back where I want it shows texture and form. And it gets rid of window reflections and ceiling light reflections."

ColorDebStoner If you can’t afford professional photography for ALL your work, then have one professional-level photograph of your best piece for the year or the best piece from a series. That will be your “publicity shot” that represents your work for postcards, business cards, and publicity.    

Cameraraw Another option is buying or renting a professional-quality camera.  Take a class and learn the variables of manual settings ...  and use a tripod. (If you listen to the PowerPoints with audio Robert Schreiber makes recommendations for features that a good camera should have.)

Now that several experts have declared that almost any approach can possibly produce a good photo, here are a few tips that I would recommend as gospel to get a photograph that will be appropriate 95% of the time.


Avoid backgrounds that distract from the work.

Backgrounds should not have a theme such as water, water-washed rocks, sand, moss, or leaves. These backgrounds distract attention away from the work and tend to look commercial at best.  They do not translate well in a juried show or juried book situation.

Hoverlit BLACK BACKGROUNDS ARE VERY CHALLENGING. Many people think that black backgrounds are automatically a good choice for light, white or silver work. The reality is that most black backgrounds end up looking like a black holes with no shadows. Try dark gray instead of black as a safer choice. Another option is to lay down a sheet of glass on black to soften the appearance and create a subtle reflection. 

LIGHTING SHOULD BE FROM ONE SOURCE. Do not mix lighting sources. All daylight, for example, or all tungsten, but not both. Do not use fluorescent, CFL’s or incandescent lightbulbs. Daylight on a foggy day is the easiest full proof white light.

USE THE WHITE BALANCE IN YOUR CAMERA. Take a photo of white paper. Does it look bright white? If your test photo isn’t looking white, something is wrong with your lighting.  This apparent color cast will not produce good photos.

ChocolateTraveler72 WEBSITE PHOTOS SHOULD BE CONSISTENT IN APPEARANCE. It is fun to experiment with unusual backgrounds or models, but be sure to take a few shots with a more standard graduated gray to white background.  Ideally, a group of photos should present a coherent theme; not just a bunch of photos. FOCUS, Focus, focus. Learn to use the manual settings on your camera to produce the longest depth of field. If this topic is too technical, then take a photography class.

Read ASK Harriete for multiple posts about creating quality photographic images. 

A final word of advice. The competition for people’s attention is enormous. The general public has become far more sophisticated in judging quality photography by seeing professional-quality photos every day in advertising, newspapers, bulk mail advertising, and online. Any lesser quality images will diminish the perceived quality of the art or craft.  Your image sends a very powerful message. Make it the best messenger possible for your work.

List of Photos starting from the top:
Digital Images from PowerPoint at the PDS. 

Roger Schrieber's photo of glass by Jim Mongrain

Hilary Pfeiffer wedding topper from her PowerPoint presentation at the PDS. (To be published soon.)

Photo of Model from Marthe Le Van's PowerPoint presentation at the PDS. 

Recent Metalsmith Magazine cover from Suzanne Ramljak's PowerPoint presentation at the PDS.

Images from emiko oye's PowerPoint presentation at the PDS.

Hilary Pfeiffer elephant topper from her PowerPoint presentation at the PDS. (To be published soon.)

Roger Schreiber photo from his website of Carol Gouthro's ceramic

Deb Stoner Glasses from her PowerPoint presentation at the PDS.


Anonymous photo found online with a bad background.

Anonymous photo with black background found online.

Traveler Chocolate Flower by Harriete Estel Berman


This post was updated on February 5, 2022.

Promoting YOUR art or craft at ZERO COST with Professional Results

One of my favorite online tools for visibility was Slideshare. It was purchased by LinkedIn years ago, and then it disappeared.

SlideShare was a FREE site where you can upload PowerPoint Presentations.  You can add MP3 files to your presentation to have audio along with your visual presentation. SlideShare also works with Keynote. 

WebsiteCAdream My primary purpose was to create more visibility for my artwork and to provide additional content links for my website
An additional benefit was that many (and perhaps even most) of the people watching my SlideShare presentations were discovering my work for the first time.

Time marches on. Try something new every day, even if it scares you.

CODE in Color Backgrounds for Art and Craft Photography

Hotbutton The background color for photography of art and craft is a hot topic with cool imagery.

The professional photographers and the editors at the Professional Development Seminar during the Seattle SNAG Conference gave this trend a very mixed answer, "yes" and "no."

A color background extends the canvas with which to create an expression. The color of the background can set up the context and communicate a broader message in the photograph. Let me repeat that with emphasis, a color background is sending a message whether the subject is food, cars, or artwork.

Talking-rain by Christopher Conrad
Photo by Christopher Conrad

In Christopher Conrad's photo above we read the cool blues and purples as mouth-watering and refreshing. The work and the background are both sending a tightly coordinated and integrated message. To the proper audience, the photo can be fantastic!

Metalsmithcolorblue In the Metalsmith Magazine cover to the left, the icy blue creates a dramatic color background. This color blue is crystalline like the brooch. They echo each other in a different way. The purpose of the cover is to be eye-catching on the newsstand. The colored background is editorial, and opinionated, definitely not neutral....but the question remains whether this particular color background is sending the message that the maker wants to send about their work.  

Metalsmith_YellowBkgrd While an editor may prefer an unusual color background for the cover of a magazine, the same answer will not be appropriate for a juried show, an Etsy listing, or gallery advertising.  It can be a total turn-off to a judge or jury, and still a great choice for only one particular situation.

Let's look at a few examples with color backgrounds ........

HilaryPfeifferEtsyLOVEhounds People often associate color with emotions. If you want people to think your work is girlie or lighthearted, think pink, or pastel as in the photo to the right from Hilary Pfeiffer's Etsy shop.


Red is emotionally charged and often represents seduction, anger, or power. Think Ferrari red, but then... it really isn't thinking at all. Red is emotional. Red is often used in restaurants from McDonald's, to high-end exclusive eating establishments because colors in the warm color family mildly excite the metabolism.

Doug Yaple.goblets Blue can be a calm emotionally restorative color as in the baby blue to steel blue range, whereas, darker navy blue is business, conservative, or elegant as in the photo to the right with a classic sensibility by Doug Yaple.

Chocolate-truffles These brown backgrounds from Christopher Conrad's food photography work perfectly. The background says chocolate. Notice how the soft lighting even gives a halo around the glass on the left further focusing the eye on the object. 

ChocolateBKpendent copy In contrast, the next photo on the left shows an ineffective brown background. The texture is distracting and fails to accentuate the object. The chocolate brown color has nothing to do with the jewelry. (I obscured the actual pendant to protect the identity.)  Do you think this background feels attractive, looks professional, or enhances the work? The brown texture reminds me of dirt, mud, painted sandpaper, or sh*t. This is an example of how a poorly chosen color background diminishes the effectiveness of the photo.  A standard graduated grey background would have served better.

DavidHworlBrownBack In David Huang's photo to the left, the graduated background color resonates perfectly with the top lighting and the colors of the sterling silver vessel and the root/fibrous forms.

What happens when the background and the object are not working in concert? The results will be confused....and the viewers are left wondering why, why, why.

Choose carefully or experiment with variations.  Know why you have selected a color background whether green, blue, teal, or red.

What is the purpose? What is the artist/maker trying to say?  Ask your friends for critique.  The risk is that photos are rejected from books, magazines, exhibitions, or juried opportunities just because of a poor-quality photo.

What works for one person’s work, one cover or postcard may not work for another situation, artwork, or artist's style of work.

Are you wondering what your color background says.....?


This post was updated on February 4, 2022, to provide current links.

Hands in the Photograph -The MAGIC Is ALL In The Hands

Gloves Magic The world of art and craft is no "slight of hand" magic show.

Yet, there is a growing trend for including hands in photographs displaying jewelry, accessories, and clothing. This increases the need to pay attention to the hands used as props.  

HangnailsWrinkledskinA poorly chosen hand prop can detract from the work in the photo and ruin any chance of being accepted in a book, magazine, show, or exhibition. The harsh reality is that a bad photo is summarily dismissed as bad work. Conversely, a good photo is assumed to include good work until proven otherwise.


During the Professional Development Seminar (SNAG Conference 2011) several speakers mentioned the hand in photographic images.

 Marthe Le Van, the editor at Lark Books, showed us three example photos (left) with cut-up artist's hands, wrinkled skin and chipped fingernail polish. Needless to say, these photos were not included in a Lark Book.
Even a brief look online delivers an overabundance of BAD photos
that include regrettable choices of hand models or awkward hand positions. I have resisted the impulse to show more bad photos -- they are too easy to find.  I think you get the idea.
Great skin, unblemished hands, and a perfect manicure
with light to neutral nail polish is the first requirement for a hand model.

The gesture of the hand is equally important.

Handfist I secretly watch America's Next Top Model (please don't tell anyone) to learn about using models in photography. One of the primary issues when they critique the photos is the gesture of the hand. Avoid the claw shape hand position or a clenched fist. (Perhaps the photo to the upper left is an attempt to be forceful, to hide dirty fingernails, or maybe the ring doesn't fit, but it isn't working.)


Emiko oyehandholdingnecklaces
   Bracelet and Necklaces by  Reware
   Artist: emiko oye
   Photo Credit: emiko oye
   Model: Jen Ohara


Emiko oye photo shows a hand holding a whole group of bracelets.holdingbracelets
   Bracelets by Reware
   Artist: emiko oye
   Photo Credit: emiko oye
   Model: Jen Ohara

Graceful hands are your best choice to help viewers focus on the work.

In the photo to the right, a graceful hand gesture effectively holds an entire handful of necklaces. What a great way to capture the variety in your line of work.

Can't you just see these photos BLOWN-UP LARGE in the back of a craft show booth? What a way to attract an audience!

In the photo to the right, a stack of bracelets on the model's wrist with a few in her hand displays a whole group of work. Both of these photos are effective ways to showcase multiple pieces at the same time. They would be a great postcard, advertisement, or publicity shot.

Would I send these shots for a juried show?  Hmmm....that is a risky decision. Some shots, however fabulous, are not appropriate for every situation. It depends on the opportunity.

Jen hands EMIKO OYE
  Bracelets and Necklaces by Reware
  Artist: emiko oye
  Photo Credit: emiko oye
  Model: Jen Ohara

While these shots look simple, there were more than 30 other shots that were rejected from the same photoshoot. Plan on taking 20 to 40 shots of each pose, position, or idea.....then adjust the lighting, the bounce card, the model's hand, and the jewelry/accessories/clothing until the photo is just right.

How do I know?  I was there as the "photo stylist" and emiko oye was the photographer. It was a lot of seemingly repetitive effort, but in the end, a magical day.


This post was updated on February 4, 2022.