Thursday, February 28, 2008

Back from the abyss...

I've been a bit absent these past few days. Or maybe it's been a whole entire week, I don't know. Anyways, I haven't forgotten about you or my blog. I've been putting all of my free time into completing a large custom order for my Etsy shop - which I finished tonight. WOOHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

This was the largest order I have completed to date, so it felt like a major accomplishment when I threaded the last bit of thread through the last hole. The girl I made these for has been an absolute joy to work with. Supportive, friendly, understanding, aboslutely a dream.

I spent a lot of time on assembly-line production on this project, which meant that I watched many, many episodes of American Justice (my secret crafting shame). It also allowed my mind to wander and play around with ideas while my hands were busy cutting and gluing and poking. When I needed a break, I took a few minutes here and there to try out some of my ideas. These means that I've got a few new designs to play with and few new items to list in my shop. I'll be adding these in the next few days.

Friday, February 22, 2008

It's a FACE style!

Liv was feeling MUCH better today after, so we had some much needed Mommy-Daughter time today. Liv wanted to give me a makeover, which I worked hard to avoid. Usually makeovers involve her brushing my hair, which is oh so sweet, but oh so painful. So, after I turned her down for the makeover, she ran after me saying: "Mama, mama, I have something I need to tell you!"

"What is it?" I turn around and ask.

"It's not a HAIR style, it's a FACE style," she says with the sweetest look on her face as she's doing a Vanna-style hand-flourish around her face.

Mama could not say no. So I got my make-up done by a 4 year old. And then she decided that she needed to put some on herself. I know I should have stopped her, but she was working so seriously and with such purpose.
And of course, once she was finished, I HAD to take a picture. This is fodder for a high school year-book full page ad I'm foreseeing, oh, about 14 years from now.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Want to learn to embroider?

With my recent felt obsession, I've realized that I might like hand stitching after all. This is a shocking turn of events, given that my usual approach to sewing is machine-only. If I'm forced to put in a hand-stitched hem, I usually con my mother into doing it for me. Or buttons - yep, usually sewn on by my husband.

When I started making my little felt pins, I ventured into the land of hand stitching with the blanket stitch. This was a big step for me, ya'll. And then after looking at the stitching on Denise's heart brooches, I realized that I might just need to learn how to do it after all. It's just so - GORGEOUS.

Now, I'm a girl who has a hard time learning about three dimensional projects from written directions only. I have to observe someone actually completing the task. So after a quick google search. I found this most wondrous site - Mary Corbert's Stitch n Thread. It has VIDEO TUTORIALS of hand embroidery stitches. How cool is that?!?!?

Etsy Word Results: Copacetic

Here are the long over due results from last week's Etsy word game.

First, Denise's picks. She said that the word "copacetic" reminded her of jazz.
John Coltrane by edavy63

Jazz Shoes by Blandy Snorhal

2 Clarinet Cabs by prodigalprogeny

I think she's on to something. The word "copacetic" does have kind of a jzzy, fat cat sound. And speaking of fat cats, that's what the word reminded me of. Except the literal fat cats - little round, satisfied, self important balls of fur. Well, not all of these guys are fat, but they sure look satisfied with their fine lives.

Raindrop Catnap by Endless Whimsy

Nude with Pearls by Clear Jade Studio

happy happy Simon print by matteart (Matte Stephens)
King Cat Fish Stick Co. by Gemini Studio

That's all for this week!
Since it's already so late in the week, I'm just going to wait until next Monday to post a new Etsy word.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Please bear with me!

I know today is supposed to be the day for the Etsy word search results, but I'm just not going to get everything together until tomorrow afternoon at least. Liv is -still- sick and I'm swamped with work and all sorts of randomness for the next day or so.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Know any serious crafters?

My sister called me yesterday to let me know that she was at an estate sale filled with craft supplies. Ooh, estate sale and craft supplies - two of my favorite things in the same sentence! My daughter was sick (and still is, though that's beside the point), so I couldn't take her with me. Which meant that I had to wait until today to go, when my husband was home from work.

Denise was kind enough to swing by and pick me up this morning. We got there right when it started, but were disappointed to find that much of it had been picked over yesterday. My sister reported hoards of people using the "snatch & grab" approach the day before. They were supposed to be putting some more stuff out, but apparently hadn't had a chance to do so yet.

Even though it wasn't quite all that we had hoped for, we dug around and we each found a little stack of interesting little treasures. It was at this point that I noticed a pair of small hardware chests. You know, the plastic cases with all the clear little drawers? I started opening them up and found that a couple of them included some items that held some possibility - 8 little gray miniature mice and 6 little plastic mushrooms.

The guy in charge saw me looking at these items and informed me that I could have the pair of chests for a mere $20.

Me: (squelching my desire to laugh at such a ridiculously high price) Umm, well, I was really only interested in a couple of things from there.
Dude: Well, I'm sure that a serious crafter will want these, then.
Me: (looking at Denise) You don't know any serious crafters, do you?
Denise: (purposefully not looking at me so as not to bust out laughting) Well, I know one.
Dude: (very helpfully, and apparently not getting the sarcasm) Well, give her a call then!

Needless to say, the little chests stayed at the sale. Apparently no serious crafters have been by.

hee hee hee

I did make it home with a cool vintage child's picture book, some gold & hot pink lame, a bit of printed fabric, a square of brown felt, and some large gold fake leaves. (I had plans to use the gold leaves as a background on a collage one day, but my sister informed me that the little glass balls for berries make them mildly collectable. Dang it, now I'll have to hoard them instead! )

Of course, while we were negotiating the asking price for all these goodies down to a somewhat almost reasonable price, dude informed me that I should go ahead and pay the dollar more that he wanted me to pay because, and I quote, "you're just gonna piss it away on the way home anyway." Seriously. For once in my life, I had no response.

Thank you, Idyllhands!

Yesterday I checked my blog, only to find that Idyllhands had given me an award on her blog, Knitting Hands. Woohoo! Yesterday was a pretty cruddy day, between my daughter's mini stomach bug and my own budding cold, so Erin's compliment totally lifted my spirits. Thank you!!!!

As part of the award, it's now my turn to call out five of my own choices for good blog reads. So, here goes:

What Can I Say? by Stacie Hooder. Stacie is a fellow ya-ya and, to put it mildly, a goddess. Her creativity knows no bounds, and her workmanship is meticulous. Be sure to read her post about her butterfly egg for Eggshibition. My jaw hit the floor.

DiamondMeenah Creations - Follow along in Julie Anne's serialized fictional stories about her intrepid birds. Be sure to also check out her line of hand sewn aprons on Etsy!

Rouge Picote Noir's blog - I got to know Melanie first through a feature on her blog, and then we traded items from our Etsy shops. The necklace she sent me is fanTABulous! She has an amazing way with color.

This Old Henhouse - Amanda stumbled on to my blog one night looking for some recipes, which led me to her blog that chronicles her love for paper and jewelry making. A girl after my own heart!
JunqueRethunque - a collaboration between Punkinhead (Idyllhand's sister) and Rimdweller (their mother). Read about their adventures in flea markets and how they repurpose items that have been cast aside by others into little works of art.

Oh, and be sure to check out Denise's list of honorees as well!

And since no contest is complete without the fine print, here are the rules of the blog award:

--Blog awardees should mention their name of their awarder (that's me) on their own blog, along with a link.

--Blog awardees should then honor five other blogs by giving them the award.

Let the blog awards go forth and multiply!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Last minute Valentines

A couple of months ago when I was all knee-deep in Christmas cards, Christmas gifts, Christmas wrapping, yadda, yadda, yadda, all I could think about was how much fun it would be to start working on Valentines. The pink, the red, the glitz, the glitter!

Ahhh, but reality stands as a stark contrast to my fantasy. I have no idea what happened, but Valentine's Day totally snuck up on me! In previous years, I'd send beautiful handmade Valentines out to family and friends. This year, none. I didn't even make one for my daughter. Our (read: my) total lack of planning culminated in an emergency trip to Target last night where we could get the ingredients to make the little cream cheese sandwiches for Liv's V-day party at preschool, scrounge some candy for some little Valentine treats for Liv to give out at school, figure out some little trinket for the pre-school teachers, and then grab up some sort of little treat for Liv.

Wellllll..... the shelves at the Target store were BARE. Instead of Valentine's candy for her little friends, we ended up with snack packs of Goldfish. No trinket for the teachers. No little gift for Liv - due mainly to the fact that I think she has one of every kind of toy manufactured to date. I did snag up a card from the Dollar Spot for Liv, and grabbed a Kit Kat for her from the check out line. This, coupled with the "Pinkalicious" book I held back from her book order this week, made a great Valentine's treat for the little girl.

The little Goldfish snack bags looked great stapled behind some little handmade Valentines - made of stacked Sizzix-cut hearts in hot pink and shiny red (left over foil wrapping paper from Christmas). And the teachers got these little numbers:

The cards are made from Stampin' Up! Chocolate Chip cardstock and some leftover patterned paper, along with die cuts of hearts and my newly acquired paperclip die. Before I cut out the paperclips, I used spray adhesive to cover some chipboard with the patterned paper. Here's a close-up of just the paperclip - isn't it cute????
I'm now officially in love with this paperclip die!!
Now, if only I had come up with this little gift about a month or two sooner, I would have populated my little Etsy shop with them in time for people to order them as Valentine's Day gifts - perhaps for their own kids' preschool teachers, right?
Ahh, well... There's always the next holiday, right?
..already dreaming of Easter themed cards and gifts that will probably never materialize...

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Girls' weekend in Fort Smith

This weekend, my dear friend Denise, my daughter Olivia, and I went to visit another dear friend Scarlett in Fort Smith.
In between the gossip, the family updates, and the creative musings, we kicked around town and saw the sights of Fort Smith. Our very first stop was the Fort Smith Regional Airport. Scarlett planned this little outing because she had heard that the airport just a stone's throw from her apartment had it's very own award winning bathroom! And considering how many nasty, smelly, dirty bathrooms we'd all been forced to endure in various public buildings in the past, we HAD to see what an award winning bathroom looked like!

And what a bathroom it was! From the dimensional tile moulding around the ceiling to the buffet-style bank of sinks down the center of the room to the comfy chairs at either end of the room, this was one upscale bathroom! Oh, and the toilets have this little button that will cover the toilet seat with a sheath of thin plastic so that your butt doesn't touch the same plastic as someone else's. Toilet condoms!!

Here's our obligatory group photo, sans me of course because I'm the one taking the picture. I wanted so badly to find someone to take a picture of all of us, but thought better of walking up to a total stranger and asking them to accompany me to the bathroom. Sounded too much like a scandal waiting to happen.

Later that day, Scarlett took us out to Mama's. Mama's is a quilt/fabric store, though I can't remember the full name. I think everyone just calls it Mama's. Scarlett had warned us that it was a bit of a drive to get to Mama's, and she was right! We drove out of town for about 10 minutes, then turned off the highway and drove for another 15. Or maybe longer. I don't know. I do know that it was long enough, and far enough out in the country that I was wondering if Scarlett had made a wrong turn!

But then we rounded a curve, and there it was. A house by the side of the road with a sign on it. (Again, can't remember the name!) We walked in and I immediately understood why people drive out as far as they do in order to go there. Every nook and cranny was filled with fabric, books, notions, and more fabric! Not only was there plenty of selection, but it was GOOD selection! Many quilt stores I've been to stock plenty of novelty fabrics and order whole lines of fabrics because the designer is well known. At Mama's, the fabrics were clearly chosen because of their artistic value. There was not a single "dud" in the entire store! I am now insanely jealous of Scarlett and her access to this treasure trove. I have a feeling I'll be sending money so she can shop for me.

As much as I was tempted to go completely overboard, I practiced some restraint and came away with some gorgeous wool felt (tan, rust, aqua, and coral) for future felt projects and some fat quarters to make some doll clothes for my daughter's doll. They had the most awesome repro prints. The patterns, colors, and scale were all such that the only thing that marked this fabric as not actually vintage was the good condition and the manufacturer's name on the selvedge. Dolly Rachel will have the most dreamy wardrobe!
(I'm currently working on making a little dress out of the yellow and white polka-dot fabric.)

Etsy Word: Copacetic

This week's word is:

copacetic \koh-puh-SET-ik\, adjective: Very satisfactory; fine.

Ooooh, good word! This will be fun! The only difficult thing is that I would describe 99.9% of what is listed on Etsy as both very satisfactory or fine. I'll have to ponder this...

As usual, if you want to play along, just post some links to some Etsy listings in a comment to this post. I'll include your finds when I post the results next week. Have fun!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Etsy Word Results: Ineffectual

Wow, this was a tough one! I mean, how can you pick out a handmade object d'art and say that it is ineffectual? Art by its very nature has an effect on the viewer.

Here are Denise's entries for this week:

President Bush 2001 - Present greeting card by ArtByMarilyn

Font of nothing 2.25 inch badge by kilogram & mercury

Pocket Bacon by spidercamp (I also found this item, but Denise beat me to it!)

DiamondMeenah, aka Julie Anne, submitted a photo of her very own AsaMina Sura:

According to Julie Anne, this is an ineffectual nesting box because the bus has open windows on the sides, and will hold only three eggs. What happens when there are more than three eggs? I think that's the ineffectual part of the bus - they fall out the windows!

Unfortunately, I don't have any of my own offerings for this week. I had a couple of items picked out to post here, but when I went to put together this blog entry I saw that Denise had used the exact same ones! Seriously. (I also found the Pocket Bacon and the Font of Nothing.) Ah well, great minds, right??

Feelin' the love!

Well, I have to say that I'm feeling much more positive about things. My last post was somewhat (okay, really) depressing, but the love & support from everyone has really brightened my outlook. Thank you everyone for your kind, kind words to uplift my spirit and kick that little pessimist girl's little heinie back where she belongs.

You are all such creative, talented women - if ever your own little pessimist or inner critic comes sneaking up on you, please let me know. I'll tell her where to shove it!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Fighting the Inner Pessimist

One of my first posts to my blog was about my inner critic and what a poisonous influence she is. I've been working hard on silencing her, and I'm glad to say that I've made some positive headway. Some of my neatest designs have happened because I've given myself freedome to experiment and create, regardless of whether I know

But even more dangerous than my inner critic is my inner pessimist. The inner critic just tells me my stuff is crap. The inner pessimist tells me that my stuff is good, but that other people won't like it, it will never sell, there's just no point.

My inner pessimist has been calling a lot of attention to herself lately. I've been struggling the last few days to keep my Etsy momentum going. I feel as if I'm making stuff and sending out into some black hole. The rational side of my brain knows that is not true, that even if there are no sales my items are getting viewed. And hearted. And I've had some really positive feedback from customers. My low sales are in direct proportion to the frequency (or lack thereof) of listing and promoting.

Kept within reasonable bounds, the inner pessimist has her role. She's the one who keeps me from spending $350 on wholesale this or that, or going off half-cocked in some bizarre direction. But left unchecked, she starts to suck my desire to make art. She ignores any positive momentum and focuses only on the items that get listed and get no views. Or, worse yet, looks at other people's shops and sees how many items THEY have sold, and then makes a point of noticing when THEY signed up on Etsy. "See, ShopSuzyQ has sold 35 items since January 9. At your rate, it will take you a year to reach the same number. Why bother?"

I know the first thing I need to do is to lay off from cruising Etsy shops. I need to list my items and promote, promote, promote but I need to be sure that I stay focused on my own goals and my own inspiration. I'm also going to work on a positive project. Denise has been telling me about an item she is making for a charity auction. I think I'll work on making a small item to donate as well. Positive begets positive, right?

I have a feeling that I'm not the only one with an inner critic or an inner pessimist. If you have one of these ugly cousins hanging around in your subconscience, do you have any advice or keeping them within check?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Trying something new...

I've been feeding my felt and sequin obsession for about a month now. I've made a stack of paisley pins, and an even larger stack of flower pins. I'm stocked up on those for a while now. Time to think about something new!

One thing I've noticed about my Etsy shop is that I have a large number of small items - tags, cards, brooches, etc. I think that the most expensive item in my shop is $10.00. My totally uninformed, nonresearched gut feeling is that my shop needs to have some larger, more significant pieces for sale.

I'm experimenting now with framed art out of felt. I love the look and feel of the felt. The nubby surface contrasted with the bolder lines of shapes cut out of felt.

I thought it would be fun to post pictures of my experiments as they progress. This is the beginning of my first attempt.

As you can see, I'm still not done stitching the brown stripes down. I'm envisioning these stripes as abstract tree trunks against a blue sky. Not sure yet if I'll keep it this way, or if I'll turn it on it's side and make them horizontal stripes for a purely graphic piece. I'm just playing right now, stitching and waiting for the image to emerge.

Etsy word: Ineffectual

The Etsy word for this week is:

ineffectual \in-ih-FEK-choo-uhl\, adjective: Not producing the proper effect; without effect; weak; useless; futile; unavailing.

Now, go find some ineffectual listings! Wait, that sounds bad.... Find some listings that demonstrate ineffectual people, situations, etc. If you find a good match, submit it as a comment to this post and I'll include it with my own ideas at the end of the week.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Etsy Word Results: Sylvan

I'm going to show my non-literary side by saying that my first thought when reading this word was Sylvan Learning Centers. Then Sylvan Hills High School out in Sherwood, AR. After those two thoughts finished their rapid quick-fire, I was able to actually think about the word and find some items that fit:

Forest Annika by Elven Elysium

Autumn Riders by EmilyBalivet

Spring in the Forest by DantesSpirit

Here are Denise's submissions:

Sunlit Grass by AvarusMentis

Awakening pendant by bencandance
Want to know what the next word will be? Tune in tomorrow to find out.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

And the winner is....

Earlier this week I posted my very first blog give-away ever - a bright flower brooch from my new line on Etsy. (So far I've only listed on of them, but more are coming. I've made them and photo' them, just have to list them...)

So, wanna know who the winner is??? I know the suspense is killin' you. The winner is.....

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The winner is.... EVERYONE!!!! I seriously hadn't planned on doing this, but with only 4 comments and all of them so sweet, I just had to reward everyone! So, Denise, Erin, Julie Anne, and Henhouse - you all have your very own flower brooch!

Denise -I know where to find you and I'll give it to you the next time I see you. Erin, I'll pop one in the mail to you. Julie Anne, I'll give yours to Denise and she can give it to you when you're down in Little Rock next week. Henhouse, if you email me your address I can send yours on up to you.


**off to make three more flower brooches**