Wednesday, April 29, 2009

almost wordless wednesday - hybrid

Got so excited when I saw these red petals on my roses. We have a miniature red rose growing next to this yellow rose, and they cross pollinated. Didn't know they would do that!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April's Featured Etsyblogger - twozanyzebras

I love when my Etsybloggers list tells me there's a new post available at Two Zanny Zebras, one of my favorite blogs in the blogosphere. MamaZ's stories are so much fun to read - I always have a good laugh. I think my favorite posts usually involve one or both of the children, Wacky Zacky and Zany Janie. They're usually getting in trouble together.

And the Zarkles and blankets you can find in her Etsy shop are too adorable. Don't know what a zarkle is? [see below] You won't find it in the dictionary. They are born in MamaZ's imagination, and become a zany monster, each with their own name and character. Not all monsters are scary!

MamaZ creates zany clothing for the youngster, and accessories, too. So if you're going to a baby shower, or there's someone in the family (maybe yourself) in need of a present, look no further:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Book Review - To the Lighthouse

I've always heard of Virginia Woolf, but never read anything by her. So when someone in my book club suggested we read To the Lighthouse, I was very excited. Now I must warn you, Woolf is not proper bedtime reading, for those of you who only read before going to sleep. I definitely got more out of the book when I was able to sit down for at least a half hour, and concentrate on the writing.

Woolf’s mix of very long sentences, short bursts of color, and multiple characters talking at the same time was a thrill to read. Her "stream of consciousness" writing is considered to be among the first of its kind. Our group was trying to think of another woman who writes in this style. Can you think of one?

My copy of the book (and there are many) has an introduction by Mark Hussey, where you can find more about Woolf and her influences. I learned a lot about her in my book club. There’s loads of commentary out there, if you’re serious about your literature.

Some things I learned: the models of Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay were Woolf’s own parents. And even though her sister Vanessa was an artist, Lily (the artist in the book) is generally considered to be modeled after the author. Not only are the characters symbolic, but many inanimate objects in the story hold deeper meanings.

Virginia Woolf writes in her own diary (28 November 1928) about being obsessed with both her parents:

“... I used to think of him [her father] and mother daily; but writing the Lighthouse laid them in my mind. And now he comes back sometimes, but differently. (I believe this to be true; that I was obsessed by them both, unhealthily; and writing of them was a necessary act)...”
- [from http://www.uah.edu/woolf/lightwoolfcomm.html ]

Not only are the characters symbolic, but many inanimate objects in the story hold deeper meanings. One of my favorite parts of the book was when everyone in the house sat down to dinner. I think there were about 20 people, family and friends. Woolf starts describing what everyone is thinking: Mrs. Ramsay picking out where her guests should sit, Mr. Bankes getting impatient with the long meal, and Charles Tansley, just wanting to be alone in his room, “among his books.“ Lily, of course, was daydreaming about her painting,

“She remembered, all of a sudden as if she had found a treasure, that she had her work. In a flash she saw her picture, and thought, Yes, I shall put the tree further in the middle, then I shall avoid that awkward space. That’s what I shall do. That’s what has been puzzling me. She took up the salt cellar and put it down again on a flower in pattern in the table-cloth, so as to remind herself to move the tree.” by derekmccrea

You’ll find little treats like that throughout the whole book. And what levels is the book written in? Thematically, Hussey thinks it’s death and war. Yes, I can see that. The Macro Textual Level: the book is written in three parts; two lengthy sections in the beginning and end (lastly a few days), with a short section in the middle (I think 10 years,) called “Time Passes.” And the Micro Textual Level: you have to love her descriptive sentences.

But I don’t want to say too much, for those of you who want to run out and get the book. I highly recommend going to a used book store or an online book exchange. You’re certain to find a copy. Have fun with it, we sure did.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Peyote stitch rope necklace - "Virgin Beader"


The virgin beader

Was pulled from the fire with a

Coiled peyote rope.

- Deborah Baroff, storybeader

This is my first attempt at a peyote stitch rope necklace. I was wondering how long it would take to make. After 10 hours, I stopped counting! I was unsure of how to end the whole thing, but feel satisfied in the knowledge of experience. Thank you Beaderjojo, for suggesting the cone clasp. It worked beautifully!


Because of those reasons, basically time and sweat, I decided to keep the necklace for myself. And I really love it!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Etsy Artisan Interview - Scampering Scotties

In commemoration of Etsy Day 2009 and for all those animal lovers out there, I bring you Scampering Scotties. Sarah's shop is named after her two Scottish Terriers, Caolin and Brodie. She told me "They are my inspiration for my collars and wear my creations. I have tested the durability of my materials on them since they are major pullers on walks!" So gather up your furrbabies, and have a look at this:

  • What's the name of your Etsy shop?


Scampering Scotties


  • What types of products do you sell?
I sell unique and stylish dog collars. My collars are made with ribbon of all sizes sewn onto light-weight (yet durable) nylon webbing.

  • What is your favorite item in your shop today?

My favorite item constantly changes. Right now I am in love with my Space Odysssy collar and have my boy sporting one. I also have some new designs coming out in the next few weeks that are becoming new favorites quickly.



  • How did you find out about Etsy? Where you a buyer before a seller?
I had long been a buyer on Etsy. I first heard about it a few years ago when my old roommate began posting her artwork on the site. From there I became addicted, constantly buying clothing, dog items, art, and everything else under the sun!
  • Are you involved with any of the Etsy teams?
Not yet, I'm still getting my feet wet so am taking things slow. Eventually I hope to be!
  • Are there additional venues where you sell your work?
I sell my collars at a local upscale Pet Boutique in St. Paul MN. I'm very lucky to be working with this shop and am thankful that they find my designs unique enough to sell in their shop!


  • Over the years, what materials and mediums have you worked with? What's your favorite?
I have never been big on art, sewing or anything else artistic. I was always the science nerd! But I knew I had artistic ability in my blood since everyone else in my family either paints, sews or does photography! Because of this (and spending TONS on collars made by others) I decided to dip into collar making. So far I feel that my collars compare if not surpass others of the same style. I offer similar styles for half the price.

  • Everyone knows images are important when selling on the internet. What's your procedure for taking photos of your products? Do you have any tips on taking better photographs?
Luckily my brother is a very skilled photographer and has his own studio. I take my collars there and we take them using a very high quality camera, tons of light filters, and a completely white background. My only advice (since I am new as well) is to make sure your pictures are nicely done. Keep the background simple and make sure the photo is crisp and clear.



  • Do you have an online photo storage site, where we can see more about you and your surroundings?
No, but I think I should look into this.
(update: since Sarah first responded to the interview questions, she's gotten herself a flickr account)

  • Are selling your products a full-time job, or do you have an additional occupation, outside the home?
I am a very busy person. I have a full time job, a part-time weekend job, and in my spare time making and selling dog collars. I don't have much free time!
  • We are all looking for good marketing advice. What's the best tip or trick you can share with us?
Promote, Promote, Promote! I find forums helpful, and find blogs that will offer free advertising by talking about your product in one of their posts. I have spent a little money on advertising but until sales pickup I don't plan to spend any more.

  • Where can people find out more about you - do you have a blog, website, instant messaging account?
I have a lot of ways to find me!
blog: www.thatdahmupdate.blogspot.com
website: www.scamperingscotties.etsy.com
twitter: www.twitter.com/scamperingscots
(update: Sarah also became a charter member of ArtFire, late in March)


OK, time for my favorite.
This is a fun pattern, and great colors.
I think my girl would LOVE it!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Blogfire Carnival - April 24, 2009

Our theme for this week's Blogfire Carnival is April Showers - nature, weather and rain.

I can report from southwest Oklahoma that it finally rained. It's been so dry and the earth was all dusty and brown. But then the rain came.

The grass (and weeds) are now showing their colors. I love to take the opportunity to dig up dandelions, just after it rains.




April is the month to get out the lawnmower. And plant a few vegetables. I usually start walking in the park, and mowing the lawn on the weekend. Maybe I'll start walking the dog, so she can enjoy some exercise with me.

It's also the start of tornado season. Luckily, I haven't seen a tornado yet, and I've lived in Oklahoma half my life. Now that's hard to believe - that I've been here for almost 30 years!

The spring thunderstorms usually hit at five o'clock, just when I'm getting out of work. Mad dash to the car! It's no fun, walking in the pouring rain. But it doesn't last long.


Last week I got in my truck and drove up to visit my mom and brother for Family Sunday. We like to get together, do something outside or go to a museum, and have dinner. DH fixed my windshield wipers, so I didn't have to worry if it rained. And it did. Thanks, Danny!

My mom gave me a little present, some watering spheres, for our wedding anniversary, and we tried to remember what year I got married. Does that happen to you? But my mom always reminds me, "It was the year of the big tornado, that ripped through Midwest City and Oklahoma City." 1999. Ten years - wow!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What came first, the Online Shop or the Blog?

I couldn't really tell you. Personally, the shop came first for me.

When I realized people were having a hard time finding the storybeader's shop on Etsy, I decided to use my blog, Stroll Through Storyland, to direct them there. I think it took me a few months to get my bearings, in both shop and blog. Soon I found the etsybloggers street team, that great group of artisans who also have a literary talent and a love of the internet.



A lot of my friends at Etsy are now over at Artfire, another online venue for handmade goods.


But do you know about BlogFire? It's the Bloggers Guild of Artfire. If you have a vertified shop on Artfire and have a blog, you are more than welcomed to join us on BlogFire.

Learn more about BlogFire at Blockhead Radio (Exposing Artisans to the World) on Tuesday, April 21st, at 8pm EST. To listen, just sign up at the radio station's site, so you will be able to join in the chat room. If you sell online, Blockhead Radio is a must. And if you love art and the people who create it, you'll have a load of fun with this crazy group of people. Come on over, to chat or lurk - we don't mind. And enjoy!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Etsy Artisan Interview - Mamas Little Monkeys

I think I first met Amy on Blockhead Radio. But you can find her all over the web! She started on Etsy in August 2008 with a fabric-based shop called Mama's Little Monkeys. I've been by MLM, and in doing this interview, became more acquainted with her second shop, Fleur De Ink. Now I have to tell you, she must be in good shape, running after two boys, keeping track of two shops and being an active member in five teams. And that's just on Etsy! Read more about this energetic lady, and her crafty presence on the web. Maybe she can teach us a thing or two!
  • What's the name of your Etsy shop?
Mama's Little Monkeys


[AND]

Fleur De Ink


  • What types of products do you sell?
MLM: a little bit of everything for mom, baby and more! Fun, gag gifts, clothing, cloth diapering, breastfeeding items, blankets, bibs, etc.

FDI: Flower Pens, custom ones available.
  • What is your favorite item in your shop today?


MLM: Scrappy is my first ORIGINAL creation! I've not seen him anywhere! He's a way to store your fabric scraps and he's also a great way to be green and recycle by stuffing the bear with fabric scraps instead of fiberfill. Plus he's my original idea so I love him!























FDI: I just love the blue bucket with the orange/red flowers! :)


  • How did you find out about Etsy? Where you a buyer before a seller?
I honestly do not recall!!! That's so sad but I cannot remember! I THINK I found it off one of my mom websites, babycenter.com or cafemom.com! I did a lot of buying first, (and still do!) :)

  • Are you involved with any of the Etsy teams?



SEUS, SouthEastern United States Team



Etsy Chatters


  • Are there additional venues where you sell your work?
Well, I will try them all! :) I sell on www.crobbies.com

www.madeitmyself.com

www.artfire.com (which I neglect lately!) and I will be doing craft shows soon.

  • Over the years, what materials and mediums have you worked with? What's your favorite?
Well, I literally just started sewing in summer of 08! I love to work with minky chenille but it is difficult! I am a VERY beginning soaper and I am LOVING it! I only do Melt and Pour at this point because I have two small children and I do not want lye in the house, nor do I have the room to really do cold process soap. With the flower pens, I love to work with the realistic feel artificial flowers, they are very soft and feel SO real! (Hence the term realistic!) I love to create fun color combos and I LOVE using different colored floral wrap--especially since most other flower pens I see are only wrapped in green. :)

  • Everyone knows images are important when selling on the internet. What's your procedure for taking photos of your products? Do you have any tips on taking better photographs?
I'll be honest. I hate taking pictures!! I have even gone so far as to ask for budding photographers on freeuse.org to help me! (And I got several volunteers!) I enjoy taking creative shots and shots of my children, but setting up the items, dealing with lighting, etc. Wow.. not fun! The best tips I have are use diffused lighting, put your camera on the macro setting, no flash and take LOTS of angles.. weird angles.

I also love to edit my pics in a program www.getpaint.net. I like to make the backgrounds black and white and then only have the item in question colored--makes it stand out more!

  • Do you have an online photo storage site, where we can see more about you and your surroundings?
I use photobucket for things like graphics, family shots. I prefer flickr for tutorials and to showcase my items!

  • Are selling your products a full-time job, or do you have an additional occupation, outside the home?
I suppose I'm working nearly full time! I have two small kids and technically am a stay at home mother! (I consider THAT a full time job although!) I do not sell enough yet to make a 'living'...plus I just turn around and spend the profit on my Etsy habit or my fabric addiction!! I also run public relations/promotions for Blockhead Radio!

  • We are all looking for good marketing advice. What's the best tip or trick you can share with us?
BE VIGILENT! You may make a sale right away and then have nothing for weeks.. or be dead in the water for awhile. Keep persevering! How you sell is a combination of factors-- the quality of your items, pics and descriptions; how hard you market yourself and your shop; and other factors you CAN'T control like the economy, and the need for your work. These are hard times for EVERYONE! I feel if I get even one sale a week or so, I'm doing great (especially in my flower pens!) because a lot of what I sell are "wants", not necessarily "needs". You have to get your name out there. Pick ONE name and stick with it! When you google mamaslittlemonkeys.. you find me!

  • Where can people find out more about you - do you have a blog, website, instant messaging account?
Where can't they find me is more like it!? Here we go:
[storybeader's note: I've linked the ones you haven't seem above]

www.mamaslittlemonkeys.com
www.fleurdeink.com
http://blog.mamaslittlemonkeys.com
http://etsypayitforward.blogspot.com
www.cafepress.com/momsmonkeys
www.twitter.com/fleurdeink
http://www.madeitmyself.com/user/fleurdeink.aspx
http://mamalittlemonleys.crobbies.com/
http://mamaslittlemonkeys.byhand.me
www.myspace.com/mamaslittlemonkeys
www.myspace.com/blockheadradiolive
Pretty much if you google mamaslittlemonkeys...you'll find me! :)
I frequent mom groups like www.cafemom.com and www.diaperswappers.com also!





OK, the storybeader's turn. Well, I really love the flower pens, that's something new and exciting for me. What a great idea for my desk, since I can't have flowers in the archives. And it would be a beautiful gift, for the other ladies at my museum.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

almost wordless wednesday - darklingwoods

Lovely watercolor by darklingwoods, called "Bag End,"
inspired by the walking poem
"Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate,..."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

vocabulary building #6

My women's book club is reading To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf this month. The word I chose seems familiar, but I've never looked it up before (hint: it's Latin!) Here's one of Woolf 's famous "run-on" sentences:

"But in this dumb colloquy with the sand dunes he maintained that his affection for Ramsay had in no way diminished; but there, like the body of a young man laid up in peat for a century, with the red fresh on his lips, was his friendship, in its acuteness and reality, laid up across the bay among the sandhills."

Wow! That's a mouthful! I must admit, it makes better sense in the paragraph, where William is thinking about his relationship with his old friend, Mr. Ramsay.

Check my left column, for the definition.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Etsy Artisan Interview - Unique Commodities

I was so excited when Unique Commodities agreed to do this interview. Terronda is a close friend, even though we've never met! She joined the Etsybloggers team just over a year ago and visits me often in Storyland. Actually, if you look down on the left-hand side, you can see she's one of my top commenters! One thing I learned when doing this interview, is that Terronda has another Etsy shop, full of supplies. Don't know how I missed that! But before you go and visit her shops, read this great interview:
  • What's the name of your Etsy shop?
The name of my Etsy shop is Unique Commodities

  • What types of products do you sell?
See now, that is why I love the name Unique Commodities because it allows me to vary my product line! Especially since I dabble in so much crafty stuff! But to answer the question (LOL), I currently sell hand made jewelry and tote bags!
  • What is your favorite item in your shop today?
My favorite item in my shop today is the Red Cube Multi-strand necklace! It says I am bold and beautiful! Plus my favorite color is red!
  • How did you find out about Etsy? Were you a buyer before a seller?
I found Etsy when I was searching for an item I was looking for. Someone on Etsy ended up having it. I tagged the site as a favorite and then two months later set up my shop. I would say I set up to sell but I bought a few things to get myself some feed back (smile)! Kind of a chicken or egg first answer I know! LOL!
  • Are you involved with any of the Etsy teams?
Yes I am a part of the Etsybloggers team, Etsymom team, Pluggers United Team and Etsybead team.




Shamefully, I have only been active on the Etsybloggers team! I MUST do better – that or remove myself from some of the teams!
  • Over the years, what materials and mediums have you worked with? What's your favorite?
Hmmm… I have worked with mosaic tile, photography, crocheting, knitting (it’s been a long time since I crocheted or knitted though), jewelry beading and polymer clay. My favorite would be the jewelry making! I love it when a piece comes together. I am looking forward to working with polymer clay! I truly believe that once I get the hang of that, all other jewelry making styles will be out the door!

  • Are selling your products a full-time job, or do you have an additional occupation, outside the home?
I do have a full time job and sell on a part time basis.

  • Do you have an online photo storage site, where we can see more about you and your surroundings?
Well I am registered on both Flickr and Photobucket but sadly I don’t upload my jewelry there much! Guess I better get on the ball, huh?!
  • Are there additional venues where you sell your work?
YES! I actually have another etsy shop http://infinitysupplies.etsy.com


I also sell on Crobbies and Bonanzle and am registered on Ebay but haven’t sold anything there in almost two years.
  • Everyone knows images are important when selling on the internet. What's your procedure for taking photos of your products? Do you have any tips on taking better photographs?
In all honesty, your photos make or break you! When I see photos of items online that have cluttered back grounds, colors that compete with the featured item or are too dark, I honestly keep it moving. One of my early Etsy mentors Catiesblue shared that less is more. I figured out that I loved her suggestion of using white/neutral background! I find myself drawn to those photos that are clear and simply focus on the piece! My process is to use natural light between 4 and 6 pm and what better background than nature! Be sure to get close up pictures of your item. I always love to see the clasp on a piece of jewelry!

My tip would be to tell people to do a test. Look at items on a venue and see what pictures draw you? Is it the ones with a lot of background, ones that have the background fuzzy and the focal item clear? Whatever it is that draws you, will likely draw a customer so mimic your photo shooting style accordingly!

  • We are all looking for good marketing advice. What's the best tip or trick you can share with us?
Keep the main thing – the main thing and have a plan and follow it! If your goal is to make jewelry and sell X dollar amount a month, what are you doing to make that happen? Develop a plan and IMPLEMENT that plan to help you to reach your goals. Always remember that all we can control are the income producing activities (IPA’s)! We can not force a sale! If a sale doesn’t come the first month or two or three, not to worry the law of numbers never fail. They may be slow or stagger but never do they fail. Be consistent in implementing the Income Producing activities, tweaking the plans where necessary (here is where a mentor would be great) and the SALES WILL COME!
  • Where can people find out more about you - do you have a blog, website, instant messaging account?
Well, if you want to get to know me better then check out my two blogs
www.uniquecommodities.blogspot.com

www.indiscriminatemusings.blogspot.com


OK, the storybeader's turn.

Here's my favorite piece:



I'm not sure if this necklace is still available, because I saw it on Terronda's flickr. Looks like you can wear it with either blue jeans or a nice blouse. And me, I love blue! Isn't it a great photograph?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Thought this was a great photo
from Jackie's hike up Bald/Rondaxe Mountain this weekend.
Read about her hike here .
See more of her and sister's photos on flickr here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

beadweaving project - phase 2

I just posted this in my 1000 Markets blog, but I think I'll get more help here. SO, here goes :


I've come to the end of beadweaving my rope necklace. I'm so excited - this is a first for me. I'm just hoping I don't mess it up, after the hours (and hours) it took, to get it to this stage.

Now, the beads are woven around a flexible tube. I read in one book, the way to attach a clasp is: 1) sew a bead onto the end of the rope. 2) make a eye pin, after threading the wire through the bead.

Anybody have other ideas?

Artisans Challenge

Come by and vote
for the storybeader's
Turtle Treasure Necklace
in Blockhead Radio's Artisans Challenge.

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