31 May 2008

If You Write Online...

I have been reading alot of people's blogs lately and visiting alot of online shops of hardworking, independent artists. I have found some really incredible talent, both in arts and crafts, and writing. My grid has grown to 78 squares and counting...just 12 away from my goal. Check it out, click around...you'll find big talent there, and nice folks.

These are people whose websites I like, who work hard and do a good job at it. However, there are many who are floundering elsewhere. Why? My Grid project isn't the key. I just happen to find good talent and put it on there. They've done all the work.

The key to success online is simply to pay attention. Proofreading is your best friend. My biggest pet peeves when I am shopping online (I love to buy handmade!), are: bad spelling, bad punctuation, bad grammar, bad pictures, and bad desriptions. So if you have a store online, and want to improve (hey, we all start somewhere, and we all make mistakes), read on.

Please, please, please, use spell check if you know you can't spell. I stop reading a blog, website, or shop if there are more than a few spelling errors. I realize we all occasionally miss one here and there. More than five is just irritating.

Please do not end sentences with question marks and do not end questions with periods. Enough said.

We all start sentences with prepositions. My high school english teachers would have a fit. However, when I say bad grammar, I mean blatently BAD grammar. Grammar from the wrong side of the tracks includes putting extra commas in there (or not enough), crazy long sentences, or super short ones that aren't a complete thought. Basically, read your writing aloud the way you wrote it. If you are not e.e. cummings, write the way you speak. Don't try too hard, just write the way you naturally talk, and you will be fine, I promise.

Now, if you are selling your handmade wares online, remember, we need to see and know about what it is!! Good pictures are so important. Take them outside, if you can, either mid morning or late afternoon for good lighting. Overcast days are especially good for pictures as well. Use a tripod. You don't need a fancy camera, just get a $15 tripod so you don't shake (we all do). Out of focus pictures are a deal breaker. Please, please take your pictures from several angles or take enough to show every feature of what you are selling.

Last, but certainly not least, describe what you are selling. I want to know what it is, how big it is, what it is made from, and any special features it has. If it is a body product, tell me what it is for and how to use it. If it is jewelry, tell me what stones and metals are in it. Basically, tell me what I am buying. Leave out the froo-froo stories that have nothing to with the item. The nitty gritty information with a little flair is enough.

Hope that helps someone out there!! Good luck, and happy writing!

29 May 2008

New Tattoo

In a perfect world, I would already be an accomplished tattoo artist. Probably partially covered in beautiful, meaningful, colorful tattoos. Of course, in a truly ideal world, I would live next door to a well thought of tattoo parlor, in dire need of an apprentice, that was willing to pay me a six digit salary a year to learn. Ahhh, in a perfect world...

Alas, it cannot be, and my dreams of learning this fine art will have to wait a little longer, In the meantime, I have gotten great joy from listening to some vague, or sometimes very specific, idea someone has for a tattoo they want, and being able to draw the design for them. I may not be able to actually tattoo it yet, but at least its my art. My latest one, for a lovely girl in Minnesota, who was VERY specific about what she wanted:

27 May 2008

New work!

Memorial Day weekend is historically pretty eventful for me. This year's marks the third year I have lived in Kentucky, since Sierra and I moved here this weekend in 2005. It was a weekend of friends and family, and I spent every day since Thursday night catching up with someone different. We built a fire pit in the yard and tried to remember why we hadn't done it already. We then burned everything in the garage that was garbage and would burn, along with actual wood, and remembered the joy that is setting things on fire (disclaimer: daydream art studios and its representatives are not responsible for any arson as a result of this blog post. Do not burn things without an adult present. If you are an adult, but do not act like one, burn at your own risk). We drank together, cooked out together, and good times were had by all. And, even with all that fun, I still squeezed in some actual new work. I finished a custom painting, finished the outline of a custom tattoo design, and made an kid's craft apron from things I had laying around the house.

25 May 2008

Interview of the week: Melissa Hart, aka catscradle

This week I interviewed Melissa Hart, from catscradle.etsy.com, and found more about this fellow Fabulous Artistic Mom. She is a nature lover, mom of four, talented jewlery artist and breast cancer philanthropist. So pull up a chair and sit in our our coffee talk:
Corinne: Where do you get your inspiration?
Melissa: I do what feels right to me. Some inspiration comes from what I like to wear, and some comes from nature.

Corinne: You call yourself a “southern gal” living in the north. Where do you call home these days?
Melissa: A quiet little town called Ellenburg Depot in the northeast corner of New York state.

Corinne: Do you spend a lot of time outdoors with your kids? It seems all your jewelry is very nature-inspired.
Melissa: I actually prefer to play indoors with my kids--I have two who enjoy playing piano and two who enjoy cooking with me. I like to dream about gardening--we're planning on planting a veggie garden with the kids and I'm working out details for a flower garden as well. I love the colors and shapes nature offers.

I enjoy spending time with my family. If I had to choose an outing, I would spend the day with my husband and our four kids--at the zoo! We all have a wonderful time when we go to the zoo; the kids are always looking to learn something new and my husband and I take advantage of the wonderful photo opportunities.

Corinne: are a lot of jewelers selling their things online. What do you think sets you apart from your competition?
Melissa: I create pieces that I have fun with; if I don't have fun with it, you won't see it in my shop. I feel that each piece I create has a unique buyer and the right buyer will eventually come along.

Corinne: That’s a great attitude! Your style is very young and hip, while still maintaining an elegance. What do you contribute that to?
Melissa: I'm always looking at what's selling in the mainstream and make my own jewelry loosely based on current styles.

Corinne: What materials are you drawn to working in?
Melissa: Silver- or gold-plated copper with glass and natural stone, but I'm extending my sterling silver usage.

Corinne: What piece of yours is your favorite right now?
Melissa: I have two favorites; the carnelian butterfly brooch and a spring-y two-strand necklace with a red jasper cab.

Corinne: One of my favorite things in your shop are these silver stardust turquoise earrings. What is silver stardust? I am enchanted by the hoops but can't quite tell what they are.
Melissa: Stardust is a term that refers to the texture of the hoops. It almost looks like it was rubbed with coarse sandpaper.

Corinne: I find your ACEO’s really interesting also. I noticed this is a pretty popular thing on Etsy. Can you tell me more about these?
Melissa: ACEO is also called ATC. ACEO is "Art Cards, Editions and Originals" and ATC is "Artist Trading Cards." I plan on integrating ACEOs with my greeting cards at first, then maybe selling them as stand-alone pieces of art. I also have several series in mind right now.

Corinne: What do you do to get over creative block or to take a break from creating?
Melissa: I browse the internet, get caught up on e-mail and visit discussion forums.

Corinne: Anything else you want people to know?
Melissa: I've been working with beads for nearly 10 years now, starting with creating rosaries for my parish bookstore. I have extending my bead-working to creating jewelry including bracelets, earrings and necklaces. I am continually looking to learn and perfect new techniques to further expand my line. I hope to begin offering rings in the near future.

Corinne: Do you have a website or blog in addition to your etsy shop?
Melissa: My website is http://www.catscradlecreations.com and my blog is http://blog.catscradlecreations.com. I also have a patterns site at http://patterns.catscradlecreations.com where I post free crochet and knitting patterns.

See Melissa’s jewelry in her Etsy shop: www.catscradle.etsy.com

22 May 2008

Hell's Kitchen or The Muppets?

I watch Hell's Kitchen religiously. Every week this season, I laugh and laugh when Matt is mad about something. Why? I keep picturing him as the Muppet's chef...grumble grumble grumble. Maybe with a little of the balcony guy thrown in too, for grouchiness. Am I the only one who sees it?

20 May 2008

Top 5 Reasons to Buy Handmade

5. Personal attention. How good is customer service at your favorite discount chain? How about when you shop online at any corporate run site? Do they really care if you're happy once they've made the sale? Do they know your name? Will they resize jewelry that is too big or small even if it isn't expensive? Buy handmade and chances are, the seller will.

4. Pride in the details. How often do you get something poorly made? Buy from somebody who cares how their product is made.

3. Your money goes to someone who needs it and appreciates it. Any large corporation could do with or without our business, lets face it. Someone will always shop with them. When it comes to buying gifts, who would you rather give your hard earned money to?

2. Custom work, like Etsy's alchemy. Why have someone tell you what you want? Here, you put a free posting on what you want, which could be vague and open to ideas for the impossible to shop for, or super specific, and how much you are willing to spend. Then, artists tell you what they can do in your price range. I use this for gifts and end up getting things I never would have thought of!

1. Have something noone else has! Don't we all like to own something noone else can get? When you buy handmade, you may pay slightly more (and you may not!), but thousands of other people don't have the same thing. Really, how cool is that?

19 May 2008

Pay it Forward- The Etsy Revolution

The newest trend in online shopping- Pay it Forward, where sellers on the handmade items site Etsy are giving away their art and crafts and only charging the listing and shipping fees. Is it an exercise in philanthropy or just another marketing ploy? At this point, the jury is still out. My inner optimist wants to think that everyone just wants to do some good, and even if it is just a small thing, in great numbers can make a big impact. So far, the movement continues to grow towards great numbers, and more and more PIF (pay it forward) items are being listed everyday. I have searched "pay it forward" on Etsy, and found everything from clearance items to prayers that will be said on your behalf to really great handmade gifts. Some of my favorites:

The purse is one of several similar handmade purses listed by heidimonkey.etsy.com, and the glass earrings are a one of a kind item listed by debrasdesigns.etsy.com. I, myself have listed, and "sold" three pay it forward bracelets this week, and "bought" a purse from heidimonkey. The only requirements to "buy" an item is to either list a pay it forward item in your own shop, if you have one, or to promise to pay it forward, and commit to a random act of kindness for someone. The latter acts on faith, of course, and truly represents the movement as it was intended.

The hard question still remains, though, and the cynic inside me is bothered by it. How many of these sellers are just using this guise of philanthropy to get cheap publicity? Several PIF's listed are not items at all, but a prayer. In exchange for the listing fee (currently $0.20), a prayer circle that several sellers proclaim to belong to will get an instant message to drop what they are doing when you make your purchase and pray for world peace. A beautiful thought, but are they really doing it? Who knows? Does it matter? That is for the buyer to decide. Another thing to consider is that it does get the listing seller free publicity for little to no effort. At the best, you are getting a group prayer for world peace, at the worst, you are essentially paying Etsy $0.20 to visit the particular seller's shop.

Some sellers also see it as a way of trading, which may be what inspired this movement in the first place. Trading is already a favorite pastime of many Etsy sellers, including myself, and the listings for a trade are usually priced at $0.20, so Etsy gets their cut, but saves sellers on commission charges for items they aren't actually charging money for. It's a fun way to get handmade goodies in exchange for items you already make. It is also a great way for new sellers to gain that much-coveted positive feedback.

I will continue to partipate in the PIF movement on Etsy with the greatest faith that it is, at the root, a good thing. As with anything, not everyone's heart will be in the right place, and that is a risk, or a leap of faith, every seller takes when placing things in their shop to give away to someone they have never met. In great numbers, I still believe that it can make an impact.

18 May 2008

To destash or not to destash?

I woke up today and before I even finished my first cup of coffee, I somehow got sidetracked looking for something in my studio, that, of course, couldn't find. I am not one that handles clutter well. I grew up in the ultimate pack rat paradise, so my idea of rebelling when I got older was to, well, clean. Alot. I also clean when I'm stressed or mad, but try not to divulge this information to too many people lest they pick a fight to get me to clean. Sadly this works, even when I know they're doing it. I have a problem, I know this. But I digress. What happened was that after a flurry of art supplies going this way and that, sweeping long covered places and making several brown recluse spiders homeless or orphans, I came up with a very organized, well labeled art supply area and a huge pile of stuff I know I will never use again. I am like the anti-packrat. If I haven't used it in years, and honestly know I never will, out it goes.

Here's my problem though. Between my mother and myself, I have collected an inordinate amount of really great art supplies, more than I will ever use. I recently inherited a large volume of things from my mother when she moved out of a five bedroom house chock full of goodies. Many I have used and many I will use. I did come up with a few bags of things that are new or almost new (barely used), and wanted to sell them in my etsy store as a "destash" item. My dillema only came up as I got sucked into chat rooms and read more than a few threads about hating sellers who sell supplies, destash items, I will never buy from sellers who..., and so on. I come from a family that speaks blunt only, so I am not easily offended, but apparently many are. I would hate to lose buyers, but it seems like selling almost new art/ craft supplies to other crafters only benefits everyone. I guess I don't understand what is so bad about this. I would rather these things go to someone who will use them and make something beautiful, than sell them at my garage sale to someone who may end up never using them, and selling them at their own garage sale a year later. It seems like art sacrilige.

If anyone understands this, leave me a comment. I always read them, and appreciate the insight. In the meantime, here's the items I plan to list (for now) as "destash" items:

16 May 2008

Artist of the Week- Holly of Winklepots

I interviewed Holly, from Winklepots.etsy.com, and found out a little more about the lady behind all the delightful creations. While working as a stay at home mom, that very underpaid position that I, for one, have come to love, she somehow finds time to create and run her growing etsy shop! Holly makes children’s clothing, all hand painted and original, and adorable little accessories to complete the outfit. She shows an apparent loathing of stencils in her very justified pride in her painted creations. My favorite is her tattoo inspired kids’ shirts. So grab a cup of coffee and sit in our little chat about her art, kids, and more:
Corinne: Where do you get your inspiration?
Holly: From everywhere. The store, zoo, nature, etc. There's always something beautiful to paint. My girls inspire me too. Sometimes their favorites, at the time, make it onto a tee.

Corinne: What sets you apart from your competition?
Holly: I don't tend to paint anything "juvenile." I like my creations to look real, not overly cartoonish or childish, even though it's for children. Honestly, I try to paint what you won't find in stores and I strive for a really unique look.

Corinne: What medium do you work in the most?
Holly: Paint! (big smiles about this one) followed by grosgrain ribbon. I love making those korker bows!

Corinne: What are korker bows?
Holly: Super cute hair accessories made from grosgrain ribbons. They're shaped into corkscrews, then strewn together and attached to metal french hair clips. They're a lot of fun to make.

Corinne: And fun to give!! I bet they would really sell at craft shows! Do you do alot of craft shows? Which do you do better at, etsy or craft shows?
Holly: I did a few craft shows in the beginning when I made things on a custom basis. I think I only sold a couple of things and mostly used the venues to advertise. Custom orders is NOT the way to go. People want to see/touch a product before they'll buy it, not just take your word that it will be fabulous in the end. I'm currently doing better at Etsy, but as I build up stock, I will try the market booths again. I think the korker bows will do really well and it will give me an opportunity to promote locally again.

Corinne: I love your tattoo inspired kids clothes! What product in your shop is your favorite right now?

Holly: I really love the Evening Orange Blossom outfit. Turquoise and orange go so great together.

Corinne: Your work looks like you must be an art lover. Who is the artist who inspires you the most?
Holly: I love van Gogh. While my work doesn't emulate his, my favorite piece is the Cafe Terrace at Night. My dining room is decorated after that painting, in golds, deep blues and oranges.

Corinne: I bet that’s beautiful. Speaking of home, where is home base for you?
Holly: The Pacific Northwest, and more specifically, Oregon. Land of the mountains, beach and no sales tax. Lovely!

Corinne: What do you do to get over creative block or to take a break from creating?
Holly: It's so hard to get and stay motivated when I'm chasing after two little kids all day. I have to keep reminding myself that it will get easier as they get older and then I'll look back and miss these times. I paint when I can, usually in the evenings after the girls have gone to bed, and I make korker bows during the day. When I need inspiration, I refer to my "to do" list of painting ideas. Every once in a while, I get on a creative kick where the ideas are coming faster than the time to do them, so I write them down to refer to later.

Corinne: I know I have my hands full with one daughter! How old are your girls?
Holly: My eldest is 3 and my baby just turned 1 in April (sigh, not a baby anymore).

Corinne: Are they into your art too? I bet they paint already so they can be like mom!
Holly: Well, if eating my paint brushes and dumping out my korker bows constitutes being into my art, then yes! (she laughs) My eldest does like to draw, but she usually hands the crayon to me and dictates what she wants drawn.

Corinne: So seriously, pirates vs. ninjas? Who would win the battle to end all battles?
Holly: (very thoughtful) Hm, I think I'll root for the pirates. There seem to be a lot of cute pirates (Johnny Depp, anyone?) and I haven't really seen any hottie ninjas. So the pretty pirates win based on looks. Besides, swords versus fists would likely win anyway.

Corinne: Do you have a website or blog in addition to your etsy shop?
Holly: I have a website, that currently, redirects to my etsy site www.winklepots.com and my blog at http://www.winklepots.blogspot.com

Corinne: If you could give just one tip to a newbie to selling their craft online, what would it be?
Holly: Promote! While there are some sellers who get lucky and are "discovered," that's not the norm. In the beginning, it's important to really get your name and product out there, but beware of joining too many groups. You'll have a hard time keeping up with all of them. It won't be easy, and you'll be putting in a lot of hours just promoting, but remember that you have to work really hard to hardly ever work. All of the promotional time you put in will pay off when word of mouth spreads and the orders start pouring in.

You can see all Holly’s delightful children’s clothing in her etsy shop, winklepots.etsy.com or drop by her blog and get a little entertainment for your day and say hi!

New work after a crazy week

It has been a crazy week. After a two day long garage sale, which I also set up a "booth" at to shamelessly promote my wares (yep, no venue too small here!), I had a wonderful Mother's Day, and even got to talk to my own mom, which can be hard these days since she's a VERY busy lady and hard to get a hold of! Josh woke up looking like a chipmunk, unfortunately, which meant that Monday was spent at the dentist, watching him get his long overdue wisdom tooth cut out. Now, anyone who knows me, knows I have a iron stomach when it comes to things that gross other people out (CSI, ER?? Bring it on, people!), and I actually enjoy watching things like this. If I was smarter, or liked math more, med school would've been right up my alley. My friend and I were the only two people in my life drawing class that were able to draw cadavors in life drawing in college. Sure, we got high as a kite from formaldehyde, which may have been part of what made that so cool, but I really think that stuff is cool. So it was hard for me to stay out of the dentist's way, but at least he appreciated my enthusiasm (Josh did not!)! Getting back on track though, after playing nurse for three days, I somehow got a migraine (not related, but annoying) that dehabilitated me for the next day. I was feeling so guilty for neglecting my artwork though, that I managed to make some jewelry at least. I have been getting alot of work doing custom work the past few weeks, and am very grateful for the opportunity. So here is a glimpse of the jewelry I have made this week, some custom and some available in my etsy shop:

I also have a few custom paintings and drawings to work on this weekend, and by next week should have some of that to show you! I am very excited, because custom work is my favorite thing to do, ever! Something about being able to take someone else's idea and translate it is very fun and satisfying. So if there's something you're wanting, let me know!! You won't be disapointed! Just a few comments I have gotten lately:

"thanx so much!!So beautiful and well made.told her what colors i liked,she created a ooak awesome bracelet.was going to be a gift,but now i may just keep it!:)thanx again,great seller!" ~Adrienne, OH

"Beautiful work, great communication, lovely person to work with - I'll be back! :) Keep up the beautiful paintings!"~Jess, NE

"Fast shipping and a bea-U-tiful bracelet <3>
"A+++! So easy to deal with & very artistic. I told her my likes & dislikes & she created me a beautiful piece. Loved that she was not only very professional, but was very warm & receptive to me in all our "convos". Highly recommended & will definitely do business with again!"
~Kim, MD

"I received my bracelet today and I am thrilled! Seller was great to work with, very friendly going out of her way to be helpful. Thanks for a great transaction :)"~Debra, DE

07 May 2008

Artist of the week- Novita Beytrison

My artist of the week is a cool fabric/ textile artist named Novita. One of the greatest things about selling online is that I have met so many cool, talented people from around the world. Lately I have been entranced by those who can sew (since I can't!) I have a few pieces being custom made for me as we speak by different artists that will be in future posts, but for now, here's my favorite bag Novita has made:

Ok, so I'm a tree-hugger. We know this. But this lady makes all kinds of bags and purses for all tastes and has a great sense of style. I interviewed her this week about her work, life and style. Please pay her a visit sometime! She writes a very entertaining blog also!

Where do you get your inspiration?

I got most of my inspiration from Asia's magazine, tv series, or during my travel back to my home country - Indonesia or other asia countries.

What sets you apart from your competition?

I believe my style and choice of color is unique. I like to play with colors and trims, by putting a bit left and right, you will make it totally looks different from other's.

What medium do you work in the most?

I work mostly with light cotton and cotton canvas. For the decoration and finishing , I like to use laces and other trims.

What piece of yours is your favorite right now?
My favorite piece of my bag collection is my Fidela Bag. The one that I put on my shop (and already been sold) is called Flowery Denim. But there will be more to come.

Who is the artist who inspires you the most?

I don't really have one.

Where is home base for you?

My home base is in Crans-Montana, Switzerland. Crans-Montana is one of the vacation resort station in the Alps.

What do you do to get over creative block or to take a break from creating?

People watching, I love sitting on the cafe while watching people passing by.

Do you work outside of the home/studio, and if you do, what is your day job?

I don't work outside my home. I am a fulltime wife and mom, and now....also a fulltime crafter ;)

Do you sell wholesale? I don't sell wholesale, but I do accept custom order.

Do you have a website or blog in addition to your etsy shop?
my blog: http://mamanblog.typepad.com/
my website: http://www.pyongbricole.com/

Anything else you want people to know? I am a self-learned bag maker and still having a long list of project on my to-do list. I am thinking to diversify my portfolio by now only making fabric bags, but also other fabric goods (such as apron, gift bag, etc.). Please check my etsy shop and blog frequently for more new stuff.

06 May 2008

Take 10 Tuesday

Today, along with the other fine ladies of Fabulous Artistic Moms will be having our Tuesday night sale! Every shop's sale is a little different, but all are from 5-10 pm EST. My sale is 10% off anything and a free gift with any purchase! Hope to see you there!

05 May 2008

key to my ART necklaces

My newest necklaces are perfect for Mother's Day and any girl who likes to be a little different! Each features a tiny little vintage padlock, which has been embellished with a nifty metal touch or cabochon, and also doubles as a pendant and clasp. Each necklace comes with a wooden heart keychain and two keys for the lock. The four I have left are all unique and different from each other, so check 'em out before they're gone!! Its not too late to get it shipped for Mother's Day! Order today in my new Etsy store- daydreamartstudios.etsy.com, and get a free hemp choker just in time for summer
My little gnome Hubert says:

Happy spring! xoxo Corinne

01 May 2008

Artist of the Week- Jen of wysiwigs

I met Jen through the Fabulous Artistic Moms group I joined last week. Her sense of humour and zany writing is only outdone by her creativeness and clever uses of recycled materials in her art. Her Etsy shop has everything from sketches to origami, and her wittiness and all around great attitude is evident from her shop announcement:

Wysiwigs's Shop Announcement
HELLO and WELCOME! I'm always piddling (a southernism NOT a personal problem :o) with all kinds of ideas so I pretty much have something for everyone!

Many thanks to William for his wondermous (a technical term) photos & attention to detail (I'm so THERE)...thanks to my friend (his wife) Suzanne who doesn't seem to mind being the middle part of an OCD sandwich : ) Definitely counted among my blessings, as is Donna (theinvitation), my priceless Etsybuddy with her gorgeous art. What would I do without them??

I am a paper folding fiend, acronym junkie, and breast cancer survivor (see "CRAAPP" below). Wysiwigs (pronounced whizzywigs) stands for, "What you see is what I've got (smile : )" - My obsession with symmetry & love of art and all things vintage blended together to land me here, where we're (all) deleriously happy. More info above my bio. Feel free to convo me with any questions and be sure to let me know if your purchase is a gift - I'll be happy to make a tag (matching, of course...it's a rule : )

CRAAPP - Cancer Radically Alters A Person's Perspective - Spend enough time looking like Uncle Fester (Addams Family) and you will definitely develop an appreciation for those bad hair days - or any hair days for that matter : ) Have a blessed day! - Jen

See what I mean? My two favorite things from her shop right now are this wonderful, whimsical little sketch:

And this cool origami turned to framed art piece:

Be sure to check out her shop at http://www.wysiwigs.etsy.com/ ! Have a wonderful day, I'm off to enjoy the spring weather....