I’ve been waiting a long time to ‘launch’ my mum’s shop, Timeless Accents, which is an online version of my parents’ two physical shops in Fremantle Markets and Coventry Square Markets in Perth, Australia. This online shop has been my little project, and it’s still baby-steps for me. But I figured it was time to show it.
Before I talk about the shop and my mum’s artwork, I need to be as honest as possible about why it has taken me so long to launch this shop, considering I started working on it early this year. My mum and I had fears about opening an online shop, because we’re both aware of what is popular and what is considered to be the dominant idea of ‘indie’ online. And it’s not my mum’s style of ‘indie’. My parents have been running an independent art and craft business for over twenty years. Before it was ‘cool’, before Etsy and before blogs, my parents ran their independent business and made a living from it. I have a huge, huge amount of respect for my parents, because while I scribble away on the side and call myself a ‘writer’, they took the scary plunge of having no day-job to keep their artistic dreams afloat in hard times. I don’t know many people who have been able to successfully run an independent art and craft business, and have it as their only source of income.
But I’d like my parents to stop working so hard. They literally work seven days a week to run and produce stock for their two shops, as well as produce custom orders for local businesses and clients. They have no weekends. I want this to stop, and I’d like to help them build up an online shop in place of one physical store, so they can have some more time to themselves after years of working so damn hard. I’m scared though, that this online store I set up will be a flop because I know what kind of online shops get popular these days: minimal style, with a cool hipster edge. Hey, I buy from such shops too, so I’m not knocking them. But I’m feeling frustrated at the narrow definition of ‘indie’ and what types of indie shops are shown support by the blogging community over others that are ignored (Rachel Hills articulates a lot of the same feelings in this article, when it comes to indie publications). I’m taking the online plunge on behalf of my parents, and keeping my fingers firmly crossed.
I didn’t mean this to become one long post about the politics of ‘indie’ these days, so I’m moving on. Let me introduce you to my mum, Orna Shachar. As I said, my mum has been an artist for over twenty years, and she’s studied various techniques in many media, such as oil and acrylic painting, Fine Art, colour theory, fine jewellery making from scratch (here are two rings she made, for example; by the way, my dad also makes furniture), embroidery and needlepoint, and so on. These days, she mainly sticks to her first love: acrylic painting.
She’s an established artist in the local Perth community and has been invited to teach seminars on painting in various countries such as New Zealand, America, Israel, and others. She’s currently sponsored by Chroma in Australia and DecoArt in America, and her projects and work are regularly featured in magazines and newspapers such as Home Beautiful, Antiques & Collectibles, Australian Country Themes, Australian Country Craft, Folk Art & Decorative Painting, Fine Art & Decorative Painting, The West Australian, The Sunday Times, as well as many, many books. Her home studio and art were also featured on a few travel shows here in Australia a few years ago, such as Getaway and Postcards. Also, the amount of exhibitions she’s both helped organise and invited to showcase her work in, are countless. Much of my childhood was spent in exhibitions! One of her biggest achievements is becoming the President of the FAWA (Folk Artists of Western Australia) in 1992. During this time, my mum was just learning English, yet her role required she make speeches in front of crowds, the media, and at exhibitions.
My parents’ business is built on my mum’s art and functions through the creation of different works. For example, one of the techniques my mum specialises in is recycling metal-wares, home-wares, wooden furniture and vintage suitcases, treating them and painting original artwork on them in the arts and craft tradition of decorative painting. She’s also been commissioned to produce hand-painted signs for local businesses. You can have a peek at a few examples here and here (or just browse through her entire Flickr collection). This is only a very small selection of her work, however. There are a lot of DIY projects online about recycling vintage pieces and such, and I can guarantee you my mum can teach most people a thing or two about how to do this properly and how to treat and prepare different kinds of surfaces for painting, and protect them for future use.
Another thing I wanted to talk about is Folk Art. This is the style of art my mother mainly works in these days. Although she has studied and practiced Fine Art, her heart lies in this style of art the most. Folk Art is basically the art of the people – the art, for example, that local communities, peasants, craftspeople and artisans used to make. My mum has studied and now teaches this style of art, specifically focusing on Folk Art that dates back to seventeenth-century Europe. In her workshops and classes, she teaches traditional Folk Art of Dutch, Bavarian, Russian, Norwegian and American variations. She brings these techniques to her interpretation of Australian landscapes and country scenes designs and paintings.
I wonder if half the people on Etsy know that the naive, retro and vintage style of art currently popular amongst the indie crowd dates back to traditional Folk Art. I hope so, because knowing the history behind this style of art and craft is important. Folk Art is also based on very precise techniques of paint-strokes. Before you even learn things such as colour theory and traditional design, you have to be taught how to hold a paintbrush properly in order to perform the very precise brush-strokes required in Folk Art. And believe me, it’s hard! Each stroke requires a different method of holding the paintbrush. My mum tried to teach me once, and it was incredibly difficult. You also have to learn how to load a brush properly with different colours at once, and the difference between the many types of paintbrushes used in Folk Art. I guess there’s a reason why this takes years to learn.
So I know this is shaping into a long post, but I felt a proper introduction was necessary. The online shop is based on all of this. I’ve also spent months searching for an appropriate professional local printer to produce museum-quality prints from my mum’s original paintings. I’ve found one I’m satisfied with, and trust me when I say this: the prints are absolutely stunning, and are printed to my perfectionist standards. My mum and I spent a day gushing over the paper quality when we first saw the prints. We opted for the more expensive, but better quality paper option for the large prints of Canson Rag Photographique (310gsm) paper. My photos don’t do justice to the prints, or my mum’s work – I wish I could show you what they look like in person. Let’s just say though, I’ve printed a few for my own walls (my favourite is the Hidden Retreat one).
The shop will be updated with other items and prints, as this is just a starting point. At the moment, it includes greeting cards, prints, framed prints, hand-painted wooden brooches, and the most popular item in my parents’ two shops: small wooden plaques with sayings and quotes (which can be customised with any writing you want). Another important aspect to note is that a large bulk of my mum’s business is also producing custom paintings for people on canvas. She’s painted just about everything and anything, upon request. So I’ve added a fixed-price custom painting listing in the shop. It’s a very reasonable price for an original artwork.
So please, have a visit and feel free to spread the word about the shop. You have my full permission to use any images to do so on your own blogs – and if you’d like bigger images, just email me.
: : Online Shop : : Flickr : : Market Shops : :
EDIT: I’ve uploaded more photos onto my mum’s Flickr collection, to showcase a few of her magazine features and favourite pieces in her studio. This is a very small selection, I will upload more when I have time.