Think about paints for a moment. There are many kinds of paint out there, used for many different purposes. There is oil paint, watercolor, enamel, spray paint, and so on. You can paint a house, or a table, or a piece of wall art. You wouldn’t use watercolor to paint a house, but you also wouldn’t (typically) paint a work of art with enamel house paint.
The same is true of concrete. I wouldn’t try to make a sidewalk with my mix, but it suits its intended purpose well.
Cement, think rubber cement, is like glue. Under the right conditions, it bonds and hardens. Concrete is a mixture of cement, solids (like gravel or sand), reinforcement (rebar, hemp, fiber, or the like) and other additives. Grout is a cement mix with fine sand aggregate. My mix is an artisan mix. It is a very fine mix with integral pigments, fine silica, polymer, and fiber reinforcement. I use ingredients that make it smooth, strong, and beautiful. When I make my mix, I am using quite a few ingredients. Its composition changes depending on what I am trying to make.
The 3rd annual Funky Designs Pride Month fundraiser for The Trevor Project took place at shows in May and June 2022. I found a way to get all 6 colors of the rainbow into a single concrete jewelry stone, so the Pride Jewelry looked a whole lot different than it did in previous years. The fundraiser featured Concrete & Steel pendants, earrings, and bracelets with stones inspired by the rainbow and trans flags. Pieces were also offered on Facebook and Instagram for a short time.
25% of the purchase price of all pride jewelry was donated to The Trevor Project at the end of June. In all, nearly $775 was raised to help in the battle against teen LGTBQ+ suicide. The board of directors of The Trevor Project tripled donations during the last few days of Pride Month, so our efforts generated a total $2323.88. In addition to this amount, I know that my customers also donated at least another $175, inspired by these efforts. I truly appreciate all the support and enthusiasm for this fundraiser. The fundraiser will definitely return for Pride Month 2023.
I overheard someone saying that they were surprised by how much handmade stuff there was at a recent flea. “This isn’t like the flea markets we went to when I was a kid.” When I first started doing this, I had a similar reaction. Now that I get it, I want to make sure you do too.
A flea market is a market where just about anyone can get a table or a booth and sell just about anything. Generally, a vendor can show up with a car full of used DVD’s and a folding table, pay the fee, and sell for the day.
By contrast, a flea, like the Kent Flea, Youngstown Flea, Neighborhood Flea (Pittsburgh), or the Peninsula Flea at the Farm, is a curated event. Vendors apply well in advance with example photos of their booth and their work or goods. The organizer will put together a balanced set of vendors in order to create a complete shopping experience for visitors. These usually focus on handmade items and local eats, although many organizers will also include well curated vintage sellers.
It is unfortunate that these have such similar sounding names, because they have very different feels. You can find me at the fleas listed above, specific dates and locations can be found on my events page.
This is going to be my busiest year yet. Right now I am building up some inventory for over 30 dates on the road this year. I’m hitting some new places this year, like Pittsburgh, Aurora Farms, and Medina. The events that have been verified are below, with details on the Events page. Tentative dates are events that have not sent out acceptance letters yet.
- March 11 – Art Walk at Summit ArtSpace in Akron
- March 25 – Crafty Mart Spring Fling at Bounce Innovation Hub in Akron
- April 9 – Youngstown Flea
- May 7 – Youngstown Flea
- May 8 – Neighborhood Flea at The Stacks at 3 Crossings in Pittsburgh
- May 14 – Sidestreet MKT at Oakwood Square in Plain Township
- May 15 – Art on the Alley in New Philadelphia (rescheduled from 5/1 due to weather)
- May 21 – Ohio Artisan Collective Marketplace at Aurora Farms in Aurora
- June 3 – First Friday, Downtown Canton
- June 5 – Heart and Home Marketplace at Medina Square in Medina
- June 11 – Kent Flea at the Marvin Kent Homestead
- June 18 – City Square, North Canton
- June 25 – Lavender Harvest at Maize Valley Winery in Hartville
- July 9 – Sidestreet MKT at Oakwood Square in Plain Township
- July 16 – Cleveland Bazaar
- July 22 – Cuyahoga Falls Night Market
- July 23 – GlenOak Christmas in July in Plain Township
- July 29-30 – Y Bridge Arts Festival in Zanesville
- August 6 – Peninsula Flea at Heritage Farms
- August 13 – Youngstown Flea
- August 20 – art-A-palooza – Green Township
- August 27 – Ohio Artisan Collective Marketplace at Aurora Farms in Aurora
- September 3 – Cleveland Bazaar
- September 10-25 – Yankee Peddler at Clay’s Park in North Lawrence
See you on the road this summer!
Thanks for popping by Funky Designs! I have a lot in the works, with at least 40 dates this year (oh my!) I will be very busy. I am looking at a couple of art shows, which will focus on the art I am working on. My jewelry might have to stay home on those dates, but I will make sure you know if that happens.
Anyway, DATES! Just announced, I will be in Cleveland twice in February… The Cleveland Bazaar is holding two Valentine’s Day events. I will be at 78th Street Studios on February 5th, and at Lake Affect Studios on February 12th. I had such a great time in Cleveland before Christmas, I am super excited to return. Hopefully I will be there a few times this summer too. Right now, I have confirmed summer dates in Hartville, Medina, Plain Township, Aurora, Peninsula, Youngstown, and New Philadelphia. I should have a bunch more up on the Events page before too long, including several new cities for me.
Stay warm, friends! Hopefully I will see you soon.
The holiday season is fast approaching and I wanted to let you know how you can find Funky Designs for you holiday gift giving. This year, there are three options.
- E.J. Thomas Hall Holiday Craft Show (December 3, 4, and 5). The first weekend in December, I will be set up in the McCormick Lobby at EJ Thomas Hall in Akron. This is a big established show that is in its 41st year. There will be over 100 artists and artisans in attendance. Most of the artists here have been doing this show for multiple years, and I am excited to be invited to join them.
EJ Thomas Hall
198 Hill Street
Akron, OH 44325
- Cleveland Bazaar Holiday Show (December 11 and 12). Located at the 78th Street Studios in Cleveland, this event has been occurring annually since 2004. With over 60 galleries in the complex, as well as floors of vendors in for the weekend event, there will be a lot of options for you.
78th Street Studios
1300 West 78th Street
Cleveland, OH 44102
- ETSY! I am continuing to add new items to my Etsy shop. Recently, I added the bookends, the newly updated incense burners, and the cigar ashtrays to the site. Favorite my shop to get notified when more gets added.
Have a happy and safe holiday season, friends! Hopefully I will see you at one of these events.
My son plays baseball for GlenOak High School in Plain Township, OH. They are raising money for new uniforms and are looking for donations for their holiday auction. I donated a planter and a couple of pairs of earrings, but I figured I could do something more…
I did a craft show at one of the elementary schools in the district (Warstler Elementary Craft and Vendor Show). I featured a line of green and gold spirit jewelry and donated 25% of my sales on it to the GlenOak Diamond Club. There are still a few pieces available on a post on my Instagram or Facebook feeds.
I get asked a lot about how I ended up making jewelry out of concrete of all things. The answer is, I was trying to find a way to avoid creating waste. I started this business making small décor pieces using pigmented concrete like planters, candle holders, and the like. I would always have a small amount left over after the casting. This makes sense, as it’s better to have a little too much than not quite enough, right? Still, it bothered me to waste even that small amount, so the mental wheels started turning about what I could do with the excess.
I found small molds for pendants, intended for casting resin jewelry. The results were interesting. Much like many of my customers, I was concerned about the weight of the concrete. It turned out that this is just an interesting psychological association. Since we always see concrete being used for big, heavy things, we assume that it is heavy by nature. Concrete is not, however, heavier than other stones. In fact, since it is mixed with air during the mixing process, it is porous and lighter than some denser stones. Once I was convinced (and I was able to convince my wife) that concrete pendants and earrings were wearable, I was ready to move on to other challenges.
With jewelry, particularly earrings, minimizing weight is important and thickness is the most obvious way to control weight. But, concrete, if made too thin, can be quite fragile. There are a few things I did to overcome this. First, I developed a concrete mix that is quite hardy. Second, I made my own molds that have enough thickness to be strong, but not so much to be weighty. Third, I mount the stones on stainless steel for reinforcement.
In answer to another frequently asked question, I do not paint the concrete; the color is in the stone itself. Each color that you see in one of my concrete stones is either a separate batch of concrete or the result of several pigments in the mix combining to create new hues. Because of the methods I have developed to pour the concrete, no two stones are alike. Each and every concrete stone is uniquely beautiful and beautifully unique. This can create challenges in making matching pairs of earrings, or even more difficult, creating an entire matched set of jewelry. I cannot go back and make a piece that matches something I made earlier. If you are trying to find a match for a piece you once purchased, it’s possible that I still have some stones from that specific pour, but I cannot guarantee it. Even so, stone poured one after the other can come out wildly different. I am at the whim of physics I cannot always control. This is part of the fun of what I make, but also part of the frustration.
Sometimes I get asked if I will use gold or silver to make my jewelry. The answer is probably not. I quite like the unexpected irony of using these industrial materials of concrete and steel to produce such lovely, delicate pieces of wearable art. I was never in this to make fine jewelry, I’m in it for the art. The jewelry is a happy side effect.
I often feel like I invented this category of concrete jewelry myself, however it turns out that there others out there making their own concrete jewelry. Some may have been inspired by my visible journey on Instagram or Facebook. Others may have had the same inspirations that I had. It’s interesting to see what else is out there. Regardless, you can certainly identify my work. The color combinations, patterns, and swirls are my uniquely Funky Designs.